Marlins to begin process of fine-tuning roster
Status of Haren assuming spotlight; finding fourth outfielder also on to-do list
MIAMI -- It was relatively quiet for the Marlins during the holidays, but things are about to heat up rather quickly.
The new year brings new challenges, and there are a number of issues Miami's front office must immediately address, such as signing its arbitration-eligible players and resolving the status of pitcher Dan Haren.
The Marlins enter 2015 with tremendous optimism, but there is still work to do before pitchers and catchers open Spring Training workouts on Feb. 20 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.
MLB.com examines five orders of business immediately facing the club.
The Marlins avoided the arbitration process with Giancarlo Stanton when they signed the slugger on Nov. 19 to his record-setting, 13-year, $325 million contract. But they still have seven players eligible for arbitration -- Henderson Alvarez, Steve Cishek, Aaron Crow, Mike Dunn, Dee Gordon, Mat Latos and David Phelps. The salary arbitration filing date is Jan. 13, and the figure-exchange deadline is Jan. 16. The club has a policy of going to an arbitration hearing if a deal isn't reached by the exchange deadline.
The Marlins have already had talks with teams interested in the 34-year-old right-hander, who recently informed the club his preference remains to pitch out west. Now, Haren hasn't completely ruled out joining Miami if a trade isn't made. But the fact his heart is being close to home indicates a trade is probably best for both sides. You don't want to create unnecessary drama in Spring Training for either party. The Dodgers, who dealt Haren to Miami on Dec. 10, have agreed to pay Haren's $10 million salary for 2015. The Marlins will also receive the $10 million if Haren retires or is traded. Since there is a market for Haren, a trade could occur this month.
One candidate on the team's list is free agent Nate Schierholtz, an eight-year veteran who was with the Cubs and Nationals last season. If signed, Schierholtz would be a left-handed pinch-hit option who could play all three outfield spots.
Don't count out Rule 5 pickup Andrew McKirahan making the team as the second lefty in the bullpen. Dunn is the primary left-hander. Formerly in the Cubs' system, McKirahan has intriguing stuff. Still, Miami would like to add at least another candidate to its Spring Training mix.
Until arbitration is resolved, signing left fielder Christian Yelich, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, center fielder Marcell Ozuna and possibly right-hander Jose Fernandez to contract extensions is on the back burner. The Marlins view all four as special All-Star-caliber players, but they are under club control and there is no immediate rush. Perhaps one or two will sign before Spring Training.