One day after injecting the lineup with a dose of speed, the Marlins gave their starting rotation a shot in the arm, acquiring right-hander Mat Latos in a flurry of moves on the final day of the winter meetings.
The Marlins received Latos from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for pitcher Anthony DeSclafani and minor-league catcher Chad Wallach.
The 27-year-old pitcher went to Coconut Creek High School in Fort Lauderdale and has a career record of 60-45 with a 3.34 ERA in six major-league seasons with the Padres and Reds.
“He’s big and he works downhill,” Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations, said of the 6-6 Latos. “And I think in our ballpark, he should have a lot of success.”
Latos has dealt with a series of leg and arm injuries recently, which limited him to 16 starts for the Reds last season. But he totaled at least 200 innings each of the previous two years, and the Marlins say they aren’t concerned with his health.
“No concerns,” Hill said. “We did our due diligence and worked through the medicals and are comfortable he’ll be ready to go in spring training and fit into that rotation and pitch every fifth day.”
Hill described Latos as a “top-of-the-rotation arm.”
But Latos wasn’t the only new name joining the Marlins’ roster.
The Marlins on Thursday also acquired right-handed pitcher Andre Rienzo in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for left-handed reliever Dan Jennings, and selected left-handed reliever Andrew McKirahan of the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft.
They aren’t finished making moves, either.
They are continuing to explore the free agent and trade markets for a first baseman.
“We still have more to do and further to go because we’re still not playing in October, and that’s the ultimate goal,” Hill said.
But the Marlins are moving quickly to address their needs.
After sitting quietly the first two days of the winter meetings, the Marlins began making a series of moves in rapid order, beginning with Wednesday night’s seven-player trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in which Miami reeled in second baseman Dee Gordon and starting pitcher Dan Haren.
Gordon led the majors in stolen bases last season and will move into the leadoff spot for the Marlins, where he can flaunt his speed. Haren has indicated he might retire, and the Marlins continue to await his decision.
Whatever that decision is, the Marlins still feel they have made major strides to improve a team that finished 77-85 last season.
“We talked about finding a way to get that next 10 to 15 wins, and getting these pieces is definitely going to help,” said manager Mike Redmond. “I think making the strides that we did last year has helped facilitate this day, going out and getting these guys, knowing that, hey, we’re not that far away.”
If Haren decides to play another season, he’ll join an overflowing rotation.
Adding Latos and Haren would bring experience to a rotation that also includes Henderson Alvarez, Nathan Eovaldi, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler. The Marlins expect Jose Fernandez to return in mid-summer.
If Haren chooses to retire, Hill said the Marlins will still feel satisfied.
“I think the Latos deal has really insulated us from that,” Hill said of the potential loss of Haren. “... We have a very deep rotation, and that is what we like. It insulates you if anything should happen.’’
He said the Marlins are actively looking for a first baseman.
“[It’s an] ongoing dialogue, one that could go any number of directions,” Hill said. “It could be trade. It could be free agency.”
The Marlins are no longer talking to the Rockies about Justin Morneau. Sources said the Marlins backed away because Colorado’s asking price was too large. Michael Morse, a free agent, remains on their list of possible targets, however.
Though the Marlins dipped into their pool of young pitching talent to pull off the trades, most notably dealing Andrew Heaney and DeSclafani, they also got pitching help back in return.
In addition to Latos and Haren, they also acquired Rienzo and McKirahan to compete for spots.
Rienzo, a native of Brazil, started and relieved in parts of two seasons with the White Sox.
McKirahan spent last season at High A and Double A in the Cubs organization, going 2-4 overall in 44 appearances with a 2.08 ERA in 10 saves. If he doesn’t make the Marlins’ Opening Day roster and spend the entire season with the team, he would have to be returned to the Cubs.
Hill said the Marlins aren’t quite finished with the upgrades.
“I think we checked off a lot of boxes in terms of what we wanted to accomplish,” Hill said. “We felt like for us to take that next step, we needed to improve. And we wanted to add a starter. We wanted to add a bat, an upgraded bat, which we haven’t done yet.”
Marlins’ moves this week
2B Dee Gordon
P Andrew Heaney
P Dan Haren
INF Kike Hernandez
INF Miguel Rojas
P Chris Hatcher
P Mat Latos
C Austin Barnes
P Andre Rienzo
P Anthony DeSclafani
P Andrew McKirahan
C Chad Wallach
(Rule 5 draft)
P Dan Jennings