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Ricky Nolasco Officially Signs Long-Term Deal to Stay with Florida Marlins

The Florida Marlins have officially announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Ricky Nolasco to a three-year, $26.5 million contract extension. 

The 28-year-old went 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA and missed the final month after undergoing arthroscopic right knee surgery when he tore his meniscus. 

In the deal, Nolasco is expected to earn $6 million in 2011, $9 million in 2012 and $11.5 million in 2013, his would-be first year of free agency.

He made $3.8 million last season and was due to get a pay raise in the neighborhood of $6 million had the two gone to arbitration. 

According to the Associated Press, Nolasco said in a conference call with reporters that he has been running and exercising without any setbacks: “I should be 100 percent by spring training.”

Nolasco has gone 54-39 with a 4.45 ERA in five years with the Marlins, and his strikeout-walk ratio of 638-169 over that time is among the best in baseball.

“I couldn’t ask for anything else from these guys,” Nolasco said. “It helps to just go out there and not worry about the arbitration process.”

The signing of Ricky Nolasco solidifies a starting rotation that is expected to be among the National League’s elite.

Nolasco is expected to be slotted second behind ace Josh Johnson (11-6 with a 2.30 ERA) and ahead of newly signed pitcher Javier Vazquez (15-10 with a 2.38 ERA when he last pitched in the National League in 2009) and pitchers Anibal Sanchez (13-12 with a 3.55 ERA) and Chris Volstad (12-9 with a 4.58 ERA; 8-1 in the second half).

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MLB Rumors: New York Yankees Interested In Johnny Damon Reunion

According to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff, the Yankees are interested in bringing Johnny Damon back to the Bronx. The report states that the Yankees are intending on bringing back Damon to use as a fourth outfielder and occasional DH. 

In 2011, the Yankees will utilize Jorge Posada full time as the DH and are expected to have Gardner, Granderson and Swisher man the outfield, leaving Damon with a bench role in a potential return to the Big Apple. 

Back in 2009, the first season at the new Yankee Stadium, Damon tied a career high with 24 home runs and drove in 82 runs. However, Damon’s numbers dropped off in the Motor City this past season, hitting eight home runs with 51 RBIs in nearly the same number of games played. 

In any situation, Damon would prefer a starting role v. a bench/pinch hitter/occasional starting role. Damon is 429 hits shy of 3000 for his career, and 15 stolen bases shy of 400; numbers that would cement his status as a Hall of Famer. 

Other candidates for Damon’s services include the Boston Red Sox, which would have Damon using him in the same capacity as the Yankees with Crawford, Ellsbury and Drew occupying the outfield.

The Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers are another pair of potential landing spots for the 37-year-old outfielder who might use him to a better extent that the AL East foes. 

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MLB Rumors: Florida Marlins Hit an Impasse With Ricky Nolasco On Long-Term Deal

For the second time this offseason, the Florida Marlins have hit a stumbling block with one of their core players, this time it’s pitcher Ricky Nolasco according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports

The Marlins‘ first priority entering the offseason lay with getting an Uggla extension done first. Whether that failed or succeeded, they were to move towards locking up Ricky Nolasco past his arbitration years (2011 and 2012) and his first free agent year (2013). Talks, which began back in September, haven’t been progressive and at this point money seems to be the holding pattern in a long-term deal, not years. 

However, to consider a trade in an offseason which has shown the Marlins’ willingness to be competitive (rare free agent signings of Javier Vazquez, John Buck and Randy Choate) seems far-fetched unless the front office receives an overwhelming trade offer. 

Already this offseason, Nolasco’s name has been dangled in trade offers and most notably was involved in a possible three-team trade scenario which would’ve had Zack Greinke headed to South Beach. Nevertheless, those trade talks fell apart before they ever got heated up. 

Teams desiring for pitching in the wake of falling short on the Cliff Lee derby include the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels. Look for the Marlins to acquire pitching in return in any deal for the right-hander. 

Another option will be to let Ricky Nolasco go through the arbitration process and settle on a basic one year contract which could garner anywhere between $5-6 million considering he earned $3.8 million in 2010. The Marlins have club control of Nolasco through the 2012 season so he won’t end up slipping from the Marlins hands anytime soon. 

Update: In a comment to MLBTR, Nolasco’s agent Matt Sosnick said, “Ricky is still hopeful that a deal can be reached for him to stay in Florida.  We remain optimistic that something can be worked out with the team.  We don’t see it as an impasse, just the normal course of discussions.  Anyone who says we hit a stalemate is reading too much into it.”

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Florida Marlins: 10 Essential Objectives to Compete with NL East’s Best

If the Florida Marlins brass thought they were in the driver’s seat in order to compete with the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves, think again.

After Philadelphia remained fairly quiet in the news last week after their former outfielder Jayson Werth signed a mega deal with the Washington Nationals, they now have attracted the spotlight for all the right reasons.

The hottest ace on the free agent market, Cliff Lee, announced he would be taking his talents to South Street, again. This doesn’t help the Marlins’ cause in their aspirations to be a competitive team in 2011 or 2012.

The fact that the Marlins had to face Roy Halladay (who hurled a perfect game against them in May and threw a no-hitter against the Reds in the postseason), Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels was scary enough, and now they’ll have to face 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee.

At least on the bright side of things, Jamie Moyer—who, unlike Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels, wasn’t a power pitcher—won’t be pitching for Philadelphia or anywhere this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Moyer was the one pitcher that had the Marlins’ number since joining the Phillies in 2006. He went 13-6 (7-0 between 2006 and 2007) with a 3.09 ERA in 19 starts against Florida. 

However, the Marlins have themselves to blame for the position they are now in. Had they kept Miguel Cabrera back in 2007 instead of trading him for a pair of busts (Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller) and not given even more firepower to the division rival Atlanta Braves this offseason by trading Dan Uggla for a less than stellar return, then the Marlins might be a force to be reckoned with, but that’s not the case, now is it? 

Here are 10 things that must happen for the Florida Marlins to have hope of any October baseball in 2011.

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MLB Rumors: Florida Marlins Reeling in Lefty Specialist Randy Choate

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Florida Marlins are hammering out a deal with lefty reliever Randy Choate

The 35-year-old left-hander pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last season and had a 4.23 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 44.2 innings. Used in smart matchup situations, he limited left-handed batters to a .202 batting average in 138 plate appearances. 

Choate was labeled a Type B free agent this offseason, and he’ll net Tampa Bay a supplemental-round draft pick when he signs with the Marlins or any other team for that matter. 

The Florida Marlins have changed their direction from a team who made only subtle moves in 2009. This offseason the Marlins have traded Dan Uggla to the division-rival Braves for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante, signed catcher John Buck to a three-year, $18 million contract and snatched Javier Vazquez from the pitching thin free-agent market with a one-year deal. 

The Marlins attempted a three-team trade that would’ve involved dealing Ricky Nolasco and Leo Nunez in order to acquire 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke, but talks fell through. 

Additionally, the club’s early moves centered around dumping their return from the Miguel Cabrera trade by dealing Cameron Maybin to the San Diego Padres for bullpen help in relievers Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb. 

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MLB Trade Rumors: Florida Marlins Gauging Interest of Ricky Nolasco, Leo Nunez

The Florida Marlins might be at it again, this time with a possible trade of Ricky Nolasco and Leo Nunez

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins are “gauging interest” in starting pitcher Nolasco and closer Leo Nunez.

For months on end, the team has been trying to get extend Nolasco to a deal that would buy out two arbitration years and one year of free agency.

However, such talks have stalled because the two sides are far apart on a salary figures.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to gauge the interest of both pitchers in a pitcher-thin market.

The high market teams such as the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels have targeted Cliff Lee with no significant ground made in talks and the loser of those talks could want to trade for a top of the rotation pitcher like Nolasco. 

Such trade could yield a better return now when teams are most desperate to land an arm, but the Marlins aren’t committed to trading either pitcher if they don’t find the right deal.

Essentially, if talks don’t work out, it won’t become a Dan Uggla situation all over again. 

However, because both pitchers are arbitration-eligible this winter (Nolasco is under club control for 2011 and 2012 and Nunez is under club control for 2011 only), dealing them both in a package deal would make sense if it can fulfill a need such as centerfield while also giving the ballclub more money to spend, anywhere from $6 to $10 million.



Nolasco had a 14-9 record, 4.51 ERA, and 147 strikeouts with the Marlins, but unless the Marlins can get a significant return, he more than likely will return to the team in 2011. 

Nunez, on the other hand, struggled with the closers role last season and could garner some interest on the trade market.

He had a 4-3 record with 30 saves (in 38 opportunities) with 3.46 ERA and lost the job to Clay Hensley down the stretch.

He might be more of a salary dump which could allow the team to patch other areas of need (i.e. bench and bullpen) with about $4 million to spend.

Chances are he is likely to be traded to a team who might try him as the closer or setup man (i.e. Kevin Gregg to the Cubs and Matt Lindstrom to the Astros) for their club next season.

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MLB Hot Stove: Javier Vazquez Signs One-year Pact with Florida Marlins

The Florida Marlins have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent starter Javier Vazquez worth in the $7 million range, along with a full no-trade clause and the inability to offer arbitration next offseason. 

Coming off the Dan Uggla trade, the Florida Marlins were looking to use the intended salary on free agents to fulfill other areas of need. The Marlins signed catcher John Buck to a three-year deal worth $18 million earlier this month. 

Vazquez struggled in his second stint with the New York Yankees this past season, going 10-10 with a 5.32 ERA. Yet the Puerto Rican has a history of being a National League pitcher, with a career 4.02 ERA in over eight seasons there. He went 15-10 with a career-low 2.87 ERA in 219 1/3 innings with the Atlanta Braves in 2009.

In Vazquez, the Marlins are getting an innings eater who has averaged 211 innings in the past decade, and his acquisition could provide relief to the bullpen if they have been used too frequently on a given stretch in the season. 

Baring any injuries or struggles, Vazquez’s addition to the starting rotation will make the Marlins a legitimate threat in the NL East, if not a dark horse like this past seasons’ San Diego Padres and Cincinnati Reds. He joins an all right-handed staff that has Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. He is expected to be the teams’ No. 2 or No. 3, depending on spring-training performance. 

In his career, Vazquez is 2-2 in eight games at Sun Life Stadium, with a 4.95 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.


Fish Frying the Hot Stove 

The Marlins have been among the most active teams in the early weeks of the offseason as part of their plan to increase payroll as they get closer into the new ballpark.

The Marlins have traded Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller in separate deals for a combined package of infielder Omar Infante and pitchers Mike Dunn, Edward Mujica, Ryan Webb and Dustin Richardson. 

With the winter meetings coming up, the Marlins seem far from done in making major moves. The team has been rumored as one of the teams interested in Arizona’s Justin Upton, and Vazquez’s arrival could pave the way for the team to deal Ricky Nolasco if contract talks don’t progress. 

The Marlins have another possible starter in Alex Sanabia, who was 5-3 in 15 games (72 1/3 innings) with a 3.73 ERA as a rookie this past season, if any such trade leaves a hole in the rotation. 

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The Hot Corner: Why Florida Marlins Should Target Eric Chavez For Third Base

Come March, when Spring Training rolls around, the Florida Marlins will without a doubt turn to Matt Dominguez for a shot to claim the third base job. Originally, Chris Coghlan was destined to man the hot corner until the Dan Uggla and Cameron Maybin trades left him in the outfield only this time in center. 

But what if Matt Dominguez isn’t ready with the bat? His defense is major league ready at this point but at 20, many wonder whether the offense is a year or two away. He hit .252/.333/.411 with 14 HRs, 81 RBI in 138 games. 

If the worst case scenario were to occur and Dominguez end up back in AA Jacksonville, who can replace him at third base?

One automatic name that pops up is Emilio Bonifacio, the team’s speedy utility player but the last time he maned third base, he committed 14 errors in 86 games back in 2009. 

Even with the presence of Perry Hill, Bonifacio is better suited as the teams’ bench, pinch runner, and occasional starter perhaps taking over for Chris Coghlan, Omar Infante or playing a third when a player needs a day off. 

That leaves one available free agent bargain who was an Oakland Athletic since 1998, Eric Chavez. Let’s take a look at why the Marlins should pursue Chavez as third base insurance policy. 

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Florida Marlins: Five Cheaper Alternatives for the Fifth Spot in Rotation

While it appears as though the Florida Marlins would love to sign Javier Vazquez and for Vazquez to end up reuniting with fellow countryman Edwin Rodriguez in Miami which would be closer to his hometown Puerto Rico, it looks as though it may be out of their price range, as he is reportedly seeking three years, $33 million. 

After trading Dan Uggla and getting back Omar Infante’s $2.5 million salary for 2011 and signing John Buck long-term ($4.5 million in 2011), the Florida Marlins have $3 to $4 million left to spend on the free agent market. 

Owner Jeffrey Loria and Larry Beinfest are hoping to use the intended Uggla money on a fifth starter to complement Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad. 

As it stands now, the ball club could go into spring training with Alex Sanabia (5-2, 3.66 ERA in 12 starts), Sean West (8-8, 5.03 ERA in 22 career starts) and minor leaguers Tom Koehler (16-2, 2.61 ERA in 28 starts in AA Jacksonville) and Elih Villanueva (14-4, 2.26 ERA in 28 starts in AA Jacksonville) as possible candidates for the fifth spot but rather than using it on another area such as the bullpen or in the infield, the team is intent on finding a veteran fifth starter.

Last season, the team gambled on Nate Robertson, and that experiment failed as he went 6-8 with a 5.47 ERA in 19 games. 

If the Marlins’ intention is to indeed pursue and acquire a veteran fifth starter, here are five cheaper alternatives to a more expensive Javier Vazquez or Carl Pavano.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Florida Marlins Very Much In The Mix For Justin Upton

The Florida Marlins have been making extreme tidal waves thus far this offseason with the trades of Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller and are about to make even more with their reported interest in Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton

For the Marlins, their interest has come from left field, never have they been this active in trying to improve their team, this early in the offseason in quite a while. Part of it could be attributed to the eerily quiet offseason last year, where the Marlins made no big additions and ended up paying for it in the standings with a 80-82 record after their lofty expectations of a playoff berth. 

According to reports and sources, a package of Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco would be enough to land the 23-year-old outfielder from Arizona, who was the first pick in the 2005 First Year Player Draft. 

Nevertheless, the Marlins have been in negotiations to sign Ricky Nolasco to a long-term extension. Back in October, Nolasco’s agent Matt Sosnick said the sides had agreed on the number of years, but were “about 20 percent” off on the salary. He also anticipated talks to pick up again in November or December.

If contract talks go south (the Dan Uggla route), expect for trade talks to pick up with Nolasco’s name attached. Back in July, Nolasco had his name mentioned in trade rumors in when the team was hovering around .500 coming out of the All-Star Break but after pulling together a win streak they kept Ricky Nolasco and saw themselves as buyers. 

Nolasco was 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 stars in 2009 and can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

The Marlins would rather make a deal like this now than next offseason ahead of their new ballpark when they would would themselves as a championship-caliber team. 

Yet any such trade is seen as a long shot because the Marlins value pitching and would be lacking in that department after Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad. Acquiring Justin Upton at the cost of trading Morrison would likely mean that Chris Coghlan remains in left field versus going to center field if no trade occurred. 

On the other hand, acquiring Justin Upton would be benefical for the Marlins since he is locked up through the 2015 season (five years at $49.5 million left), with a similar dollar amount offered to Dan Uggla (four years, $48 million). Upton is expected to earn $4,250,000 in 2011 and along with John Buck’s $6 million annual salary would almost total up to the $12 million allocated for Dan Uggla had he signed a long-term deal. 

The Marlins expect to raise payroll after the upcoming season to be aligned with the middle of the pack which is expected to be anywhere from $75 million to $85 million so Upton’s latter years of the deal which rise into $14-15 million a season shouldn’t be a holding point. 

At the end of the day if any deal happens, it probably wouldn’t be until December when Winter Meetings roll around and when the Marlins have had enough time to iron out contract talks with Ricky Nolasco but the way this offseason has gone you just never know what might happen next. 

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