End of lockout starts MLB’s March Madness

End of lockout starts MLB’s March Madness


The Miami Marlins are exploring trades and free agent possibilities as camp is set to open. MO2 lists a couple of targets

By Joe Frisaro @ManOn2nd

JUPITER, Fla. — Welcome to MLB’s version of March Madness.

After a maddening 99-day MLB lockout, the baseball world is rejoicing in the fact a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached.

With the doors now open, 40-man roster players are returning to spring training complexes. Workouts will officially begin in a day or two, and Grapefruit League and Cactus League games are scheduled for the end of next week.

Before anyone can really catch their breath after the exhausting lockout, players, teams and the league have immediately hit the ground running.

So what’s next?

For the Miami Marlins, it’s time to do a rapid ramp-up.

The ratification of the CBA immediately launched free agency, the trading period, as well as signing unsigned arbitration-eligible players.

What is no longer on their plate is the Rule 5 Draft, which has been scratched for this year.

The Marlins open camp on Monday at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter.

Behind the scenes, the front office is working on signing free agents as well as trades.

ManOn2nd has heard two of the targets are Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds, and free agent outfielder Michael Conforto, previously with the Mets.

Miami’s interest in Reynolds is serious, and pretty much has been dating back to before the lockout in December. Internally, the club is discussing which prospects they are willing to include in a multi-player package. The Marlins also could include a player or pitcher from their big league roster.

Reynolds’ situation is definitely worth watching.

The Marlins have some interest in Jorge Soler, who would be corner outfield/designated hitter possibility. Our sense on Soler is he’s being discussed internally, but the team already has similar right-handed hitting DH possibilities. There is also questions about his defense, which is significant since there is plenty of outfield ground to cover at spacious loanDepot park.

Conforto is in the mix. He’s also represented Scott Boras, who tends to move slowly in the free agent process.

We’ve also heard the Marlins are not expected to sign free agent outfielder, Nick Castellanos, a South Florida native.

We reported that Friday morning. A few hours later, CC Sabathia, a former teammate of Derek Jeter, claimed Jeter and Marlins ownership were at odds about over what it would take to sign Castellanos. Jon Heyman reported the Marlins had made a five-year offer prior to the lockout.

Jeter and the Marlins, of course, parted ways a few weeks ago.

From our end, there are still some sketchy details as to exactly why Jeter is no longer the organization’s chief executive officer.

With Jeter no longer at the helm, general manager Kim Ng is overseeing the baseball operations.

We know the Marlins are looking for at least another impact bat. They can’t go wrong with either Reynolds or Conforto.

So what’s the best approach?

The cost in trade pieces to acquire Reynolds, we’re told, is very high. Conforto is seeking a big payday, likely in the $100 million range.

The question is, do deplete the farm system to solve center field? Or do you retain your prospects and spend more for an impact bat. You are investing more in one player, but also retain least two or three high-end prospects.

JJ Bleday homers in a scrimmage vs. the Nationals prospects.

Earlier in the day on Saturday, MO2 also has heard the Marlins are being cautious about parting with their starting pitching prospects.

Now, after more inquiries from our sources, the Marlins have a few starters who are untouchable, but they are open to moving high-end pitching prospects. This is a significant development, because it increases the possibility of working out a deal, not just for Reynolds, but any club that could be a potential trade partner.

Edward Cabrera, Max Meyer, Sixto Sanchez, Jake Eder (recovering from Tommy John surgery), Dax Fulton and Eury Perez are all ranked in the top 10 of Miami’s Top 30 prospect list, per MLB Pipeline. For the right price, most, if not all, listed above could be moved.

Perez threw two scoreless innings in a scrimmage on the back fields in minors camp on Saturday.

Keep in mind, the Marlins pitching depth already thinned because of Eder’s injury. Sanchez also has been slow in his recovering from surgery. And before the lockout, they dealt Zach Thompson and Kyle Nicolas to the Pirates for catcher Jacob Stallings.

Shortstop Kahlil Watson and outfielder JJ Bleday would be the top position players who could be available. Outfielder Peyton Burdick also would attract interest.

Obviously, the Marlins are looking at all their options, and they also are in need of bullpen depth, and possibly a backup catcher.

The club has a lot to address in a relatively little amount of time. Opening Days is set for April 8 at San Francisco.

The frenzy is just getting started.

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