The Marlins have made a lot of noise at the Winter Meetings with the daily barrage of Jose Fernandez trade rumors.
But they could leave the Music City as quietly as they arrived.
President of baseball operations Michael Hill said Wednesday that, barring an unexpected turn of events, the Marlins could return to South Florida without having made a significant move in Nashville.
And it appears Fernandez will remain a Marlin — for now.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Hill said Fernandez “is not going anywhere” and that the phone calls from teams asking about him have “run their course.”
Outside of the low-level waiver claim of pitcher Mike Strong, and perhaps a foray into the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the Marlins could return to Miami with the same roster they brought with them to Nashville.
“I think that’s a possibility, and we’re not upset,” Hill said. “I don’t think we’d be disappointed, because it’s not over.”
The Marlins still have the rest of the winter to fulfill their stated goal of upgrading their pitching staff, either in the rotation or bullpen. As the Marlins and every other team have discovered, the cost of pitching is high, both in the trade and free agent markets.
That high cost could be prohibitive for the Marlins, who don’t plan on spending a lot of money this offseason.
“The trades are probably as expensive as the dollars in terms of players,” Hill said. “When trades happen and you see the cost to acquire a particular pitcher you take notice of what it will take. You have to be prepared to pony up either in terms of players or dollars.”
The Marlins could be forced to lower their sights on a starter. If so, they could look to focus instead on the bullpen.
“There are still a number of free-agent pitching options out there that we’re looking at to potentially upgrade our rotation,” Hill said. “But we’re also looking at some bullpen options to see if that would be a different direction to potentially go if you can’t get the starting options you want.”
Hill said just because the Marlins have not yet made a major acquisition, it’s too early to panic.
“We’re not going to jump into anything until we feel comfortable that this is the move, or moves, to make us a better team,” he said. “The offseason, by no means is it over.”
The Fernandez trade talk died to a whimper Wednesday.
No team expressed a willingness to meet the Marlins’ sky-high demands, though that didn’t stop them for listening to proposals.
The Marlins were in discussions with the Diamondbacks on Tuesday for a possible deal that would send Fernandez to Arizona for a package of five players. But the talks ended when the Diamondbacks worked out a trade with the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Shelby Miller.
It remains possible that the Marlins could be approached again about Fernandez, though.
“I didn’t come to the meetings thinking we were going to trade Jose Fernandez,” Hill said. “That was the farthest thing from my mind. But the rumors took on a whole life of their own, and you have to deal with them. Where it goes from here, I don’t know.”