Marlins garnering interest in Smith, Anderson
MIAMI -- With less than 24 hours to the Trade Deadline, the status of several Marlins players remains in limbo.
Miami is open to making moves, and a couple pitchers are attracting interest -- left-hander Caleb Smith and right-handed reliever Nick Anderson.
Contenders are seeking to upgrade their rotations and bullpens, and Smith and Anderson are attractive because they each are controllable for several more seasons.
For that reason, the Marlins have set a high asking price, and will not part with either easily.
Speaking generally about Miami’s controllable pitchers, manager Don Mattingly said on Tuesday: “We do have some guys I'm sure are attractive, but there's no reason for us to just do something, unless we get what we want.”
The starting-pitching market was thrown for a spin a couple of days out from the Deadline, when the Mets acquired Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays on Sunday.
That removed a big name from the field, and the most mentioned starters who might be available on a national scale are Mets right-handers Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, along with Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner.
“You hear it now -- teams are looking for a starter,” Mattingly said. “You hear the big names out there, the Syndergaards, and Wheelers and Bumgarner, and names like that.”
Smith, who turned 28 on Sunday, is making $557,000 this season, and isn’t eligible for arbitration until 2021, and he will not qualify for free agency until '24. The left-hander beat the D-backs on Monday night, giving up four runs in seven innings with nine strikeouts. In 17 starts, he has 119 strikeouts in 97 innings.
Anderson, 29, has a 3.92 ERA and one save in 45 games. The right-hander is eligible for arbitration in 2022, and isn't a free agent until '25.
Marlins officials have been in a meeting room at Marlins Park for several days, and they also are exploring trades for players who have expiring contracts -- infielder Neil Walker, outfielder Curtis Granderson and second baseman Starlin Castro, who technically has a $16 million club option for 2020, with a $1 million club option.
There’s also a chance the Marlins could move shortstop Miguel Rojas, a team leader, and reliever Adam Conley, who is having a down season, but is a lefty with a 94-97 mph fastball. Those are hard to find, plus Conley has had success in the past.
With so much unsettled, Mattingly’s approach to the Trade Deadline is to treat it like business as usual. He’s prepared to take a player out of the lineup, or stay away from using a player who might be moved.
“In general, you’re just managing the game the same way,” Mattingly said. “Guys are available. The biggest thing, I think, is mentally with your club. You’ve got guys who are possibly on the move. How does that affect your team? What’s going to happen after this?”
Such a scenario occurred on Saturday, when closer Sergio Romo was dealt to the Twins. President of baseball operations Michael Hill contacted Mattingly during the game to tell him to not use Romo.
“Usually, everybody is still always available, unless it is like [Saturday], with Sergio,” Mattingly said. “Mike called down during the game and said, ‘Hey, stay away from Sergio.’ That tells us that there’s been a deal made, probably in the final stages of that.”
In the Romo deal, the Marlins also sent Minor League pitcher Chris Vallimont and a player to be named later for first baseman Lewin Diaz, a left-handed hitter who has reported to Double-A Jacksonville.
As part of the deal, the Twins agreed to pick up the rest of Romo's $2.5 million salary, which is $874,000.
Walker is signed for $2 million, and owed $678,000.
Money is the biggest burden for Castro, who still is set to make $4.7 million, counting his $1 million buyout.
“Anything we’re doing is not going to be about winning more games this year, it's going to be about putting us in a position to win more games for a long time,” Mattingly said.