Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Marlins have reportedly pulled pitching ace Josh Johnson off the trading block.
According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Marlins “are informing clubs they see more value in keeping Johnson, heading into his free-agent year, than trading him just to say they did.”
The Marlins have been in borderline full fire-sale mode in recent weeks trying to shed salary. The Marlins have Johnson under contract for next year at $13.75 million, but will likely be shopping him during the offseason.
If the pitching market remains woefully thin through the offseason; the team could command more of a reward trading him at that time during the baseball winter meetings.
Marlins fans aren’t surprised as team owner Jeffrey Loria has had penny-penching ways for years, despite his public pitch he’d be increasing payroll to help put a winner in South Florida. The pitch helped get Miami to pony up the majority of the money for the new Marlins Park.
Yahoo! Sports reported the Marlins future thusly, “While the Marlins aren’t in full-on dump mode, they’re also far more concerned about beyond the 2013 season than next year, according to executives who have inquired about Johnson. Because they plan to cut payroll next year, the executives said, the Marlins are focusing on young, cheap players rather than major-league talent.”
The Marlins have picked up some significant talent for the future including catcher Rob Brantly who his hitting .278 in Triple-A. That would be a significant upgrade in hitting if Brantly could carry that over to the big leagues and he could form a nice battery with another prospect the Marlins landed.
The Fish pulled in the Detroit Tigers’ top overall prospect, Jacob Turner. He’s a 6’5” pitcher whose fastball can reach the mid-90’s, though typically hangs around the low-90’s. He’s signed through 2013 with team options for 2014 and 2015 and won’t be arbitration eligible until 2015.
The Marlins did that while shedding millions in salary, which has always been goal number one for the organization.
The Texas Rangers emerged as a team looking to acquire Johnson, but the Fish were asking for Texas’ top prospect. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported the Marlins are demanding Olt in a trade for Johnson and Texas wasn’t willing to go that far.
Olt has hit .291 with 27 home runs and 80 RBI’s in Double-A this year and has a .582 slugging percentage and an OPS of .986 in 92 games.
Pairing Olt with Giancarlo Stanton would provide a great, young punch in the middle of the lineup. Combine that with Jose Reyes at the top of the order and possibly Brantly if he improves his plate discipline and the Marlins would have a solid, yet cheap, lineup heading into 2013.
The Rangers are also talking to the Philadelphia Phillies about possibly acquiring Cliff Lee, who at 33 has struggled to a 1-6 record this season, but does have an ERA of 3.95. Lee is also owed $25 million over the next three seasons and $27.5 million in 2016.
Major League Baseball’s trade deadline is Tuesday afternoon.