Marlins open to deals, but proceeding cautiously

July 7th, 2018

WASHINGTON -- A little more than three weeks away from the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins find themselves in an interesting position.

The organization is open to making deals, but only if they make sense. There isn't any urgency to move players who are close to free agency, and there isn't a mandate to unload salary.

Also factoring into the decision making is the fact several players that are in demand -- like catcher J.T. Realmuto and closer -- are internally viewed as players to build around.

"Pretty much, we'll talk about anybody, but you also have guys you're way less likely to trade than others," manager Don Mattingly said. "We're trying to build something. You have guys you feel like are part of your future, and you're not necessarily looking to keep subtracting."

In a season they are celebrating the organization's 25th anniversary, the new ownership group, headed by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter, also is tasked with changing the culture internally and the public perception. This year is about putting a foundation in place, and trying to avoid parting with players who may be part of their long-range plan.

Changing perception isn't easy for the Marlins, especially after last offseason, when they dealt , Dee Gordon, and .

Jeter, in his first year as chief executive officer, has repeatedly preached the importance of building from the ground up, and it's already started in the Minor Leagues. Currently, Jeter and Michael Hill, the team's president of baseball operations, are making the rounds to several Minor League affiliates, with stops at Class A Greensboro and Double-A Jacksonville on the agenda.

At the same time, teams are measuring the trade market. Realmuto, in his first year of arbitration, won't be eligible for free agency until 2021. Internally, team officials have discussed signing the 27-year-old to an extension, but nothing has been proposed to the catcher's representatives.

The Nationals have expressed interest in recent months in Realmuto, but the asking price is a package starting with top prospects, like Juan Soto or .

Barraclough, named N.L. Reliever of the Month, is arbitration-eligible for the first time next year. Teams like the Dodgers and Red Sox are in the market for relievers.

Barraclough, under club control for three more seasons after this one, is also commanding a top-level prospect.

Whichever direction the club goes by the end of the month, internally, there's already been noticeable changes in how the organization is being run.

Third baseman , a former teammate with Jeter on the Yankees, sees a promising future for the organization.

"Jeter, every time I listen to his interviews, he's trying to build a first-class organization," Prado said. "That comes from the bottom, all the way to the top. You can see it, you can see the change. Even the people who were here in the past, now they're still here, and they're like, 'Now, we've got to change to the positive side.' There was a lot of negative stuff around. Sometimes that can be contagious."

Worth noting:

* Utility infielder on Saturday made his first big league appearance in center field. Rivera has played the two corner outfield spots, but never center. He said he last was out there while playing youth baseball. With on the disabled list, and Rivera will be handling center.

  • started the first 90 games for the Marlins, but on Saturday he was given a breather, with starting in right field. Going back to last year, Anderson had started 93 straight games. It was a scheduled day off, and the rookie is expected back on Sunday.