Although the Marlins made what they felt was a substantial, multiyear extension offer to Jose Fernandez, the pitcher’s agent said Wednesday the sides haven’t spoken in months and no talks are ongoing.
Scott Boras said he last spoke with the Marlins about Fernandez last January or February, with then-general manager Dan Jennings.
Fernandez remains under team control through the 2018 season, after which he would become eligible for free agency. Boras typically prefers his clients test free agency rather than work out extensions with their current teams.
Boras said Fernandez, who returned from Tommy John surgery in July, will be closely monitored in 2016 to avoid a recurrence. Fernandez could be restricted to the total number of innings he’ll be allowed to pitch.
“Certainly, the doctors are going to prescribe a graduated program for him,” Boras said. “He threw somewhere in the area of 65 to 70 innings [last season] and I think his career high is 170 or 180. So I’m sure we’ll have discussions about that.”
Boras was pointed in his remarks concerning the Marlins’ handling of outfielder Marcell Ozuna, another of his clients, last season. Ozuna was sent to the minors when he slumped and remained there for an exceptionally long time.
The Marlins delayed the start of the salary-arbitration process for Ozuna as a result.
“This player should not have been in the minor leagues,” Boras said. “I think when you look at these things, it sends a message to players. It sends a message to the locker room. And it sends a message to everyone that looks at the organization that there is a calculus going on that is beyond performance.”
The Marlins would surely like to get their hands on a starting pitcher along the lines of Yovani Gallardo and Mike Leake to bolster the rotation.
But if the bidding for those two free agents goes too high, the Marlins are prepared to lower their sights and settle on a backup list of more affordable arms. Those include Scott Kazmir, Tim Lincecum, Colby Lewis, Ian Kennedy, J.A. Happ and Doug Fister.
The Marlins have anywhere from $10 million to $15 million to spend on free agents, which eliminates them from going after upper-echelon starters such as Zack Greinke or David Price, among others.
But they could free up an extra $4 million if they choose not to tender a contract to right-hander Henderson Alvarez, who is working his way back from shoulder surgery and will not be ready to take the mound for Miami at the start of the season.
Alvarez is scheduled to begin a throwing program around Dec. 1, or one day before the Marlins must make a decision on whether to tender him an offer or cut him loose.
Said Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill. “You want to have as much information as possible on how his rehab is going. You don’t make those decisions now.”
The Marlins would prefer to add two starters to the rotation and could obtain one of the others via a trade, with Ozuna’s name already being floated.
The Marlins made what ESPN.com writer Jayson Stark termed a “lopsided” trade with Pittsburgh last month as compensation for hiring away Pirates special assistant Jim Benedict.
One day after the Marlins hired Benedict to become their vice president of pitching, they traded pitching prospect Trevor Williams to the Pirates in exchange for right-hander Richard Williams, who isn’t highly regarded as a prospect.
According to information provided by unnamed sources, Stark wrote that the Pirates demanded the trade after the Marlins had already lured away Marc Delpiano from Pittsburgh to serve as vice president of player development.