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From left to right: Michael Hill, president of baseball operations for the Miami Marlins, Don Mattingly, team manager, and Derek Jeter, chief executive officer, speak during a press conference at Marlins Park on Sept. 20. The Marlins would like to add at least one veteran bat this winter. MATIAS J. OCNER [email protected]
A quick six-pack of Marlins notes:
▪ The Marlins intend to sign at least one veteran bat but are disinclined to give him a longterm deal because they don’t want to block any of their top position prospects, according to a source.
Miami is exploring free agent outfielders and corner infielders, with a bunch of names under consideration.
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Among the realistic free agent outfield options: Avasail Garcia (.282, 20 homers, 72 RBI for Tampa Bay), Corey Dickerson (.304, 12, 59 for Pittsburgh and Philadelphia), Brett Gardner (.251, 28, 74 for the Yankees) and Adam Jones (.260, 16, 67 for Arizona). The Marlins and Jones spoke last offseason.
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And The Athletic reported that Miami has inquired about Nationals free agent infielder/outfielder Howie Kendrick, who hit .344 for the Nationals, with 17 homers and 62 RBI.
Like nearly every team, the Marlins are slow-playing free agency at the moment. They might wait to sign a bat until during or after next month’s winter meetings in San Diego, though they haven’t ruled out doing something sooner.
“We need to get better [and] adding offense will be the focal point,” Marlins president/baseball operations Michael Hill said Wednesday night.
▪ The Marlins are not aggressively pursuing Cubs free agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos but like the player and could enter the bidding if he’s still available in a few weeks and willing to accept a shorter deal, according to a source.
Agent Scott Boras is believed to be looking for a sizable multiyear deal.
Castellanos, a native of Davie, hit..289 with 27 homers and 73 RBI for the Cubs and Detroit last season.
The Marlins aren’t pursuing free agents that would require draft pick compensation, such as Cardinals free agent and former Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna.
▪ At this point, the Marlins are leaning toward tendering arbitration-eligible Jose Urena but haven’t made a final decision.
Urena was 4-7 with a 4.70 ERA in 13 appearances as a starter before a back injury last season. He returned late in the season as a reliever but struggled, going 0-3 with a 9.00 ERA in 11 appearances.
Urena being tendered doesn’t guarantee he will be on the team; the Marlins tendered Dan Straily last winter but utimately released him before the season, with Miami required to pay only a small percentage of the salary.
Even with Urena’s erratic performance last season, he still has value as an established veteran starter.
The Marlins also must make a decision on whether to tender Adam Conley by the Dec. 2 non-tender deadline.
The Marlins moved on from Wei Yin Chen on Wednesday night, designating him for assignment even though Miami owes him $22 million next season.
▪ I asked Hill on Wednesday if there are position players – besides Brian Anderson, Jorge Alfaro and Miguel Rojas – who can be projected as very likely starters next season regardless of how they play in spring training.
Hill stopped short of calling anyone else a sure-fire starter but made clear that Garrett Cooper, Isan Diaz, Harold Ramirez, Jon Berti and Lewis Brinson “will have every opportunity to compete for at bats.”
The Marlins naturally would love for Diaz to be their longterm second baseman, but he needs to at least perform decently next spring.
▪ Pitching stuff: The Marlins want to sign at least two relievers to supplement the group of Drew Steckenrider (returning from elbow surgery), Ryne Stanek, Austin Brice, Jarlin García and José Quijada…. The Marlins’ decision to omit lefty Will Stewart from their 40-man roster seems like a reasonably safe gamble because he was erratic at Class A Jupiter, going 6-12 with a 5.43 ERA. It seems unlikely – though not out of the question – that a team would take him in the Rule 5 draft. The Marlins had several top prospects who needed to be moved to the 40-man roster, so someone invariably was going to get left out. Stewart “is still a very good major league prospect,” Hill said of the third piece acquired in the J.T. Realmuto trade (with Alfaro and top pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez).
▪ Quick stuff: The Marlins shifted Triple A affiliates, from the New Orleans BabyCakes to the Wichita Wind Surge…The Marlins were encouraged by Nick Neidert’s work in the Arizona Fall League; he had a 1.25 ERA in five starts. “To make up for the time he lost due to injury [last season, when he was limited to 13 starts] was incredibly important,” Hill said…Victor Victor Mesa hit .271 in the Fall League and Jerar Encarnacion .269.
Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/barry-jackson/article237180073.html#storylink=cpy