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Marlins Winter Meetings Article


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This is not the same article as "Marlins checking their list twice. One more note - Frisaro wrote here that were getting rid of Encarnacion which contradicts what he said before in another article.


Marlins Winter Meetings checklist

By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com




MIAMI -- In the post World Series championship celebration, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria declared there would be no dismantling.


This is 2003, Loria said, and times have changed. The front office is committed to holding together as much of the title team as possible, unlike the breakup of the 1997 championship squad by former owner H. Wayne Huizenga.


Keeping true to his word, the Marlins have signed All-Stars Luis Castillo and Mike Lowell to multi-year deals, solidifying the infield. Reliever Chad Fox has re-signed, bolstering the back end of the bullpen.


Though the core of the team is remaining in tact, there will be revisions. The team has to deal with a couple of key losses. Catcher Ivan Rodriguez, the MVP of the National League Championship Series, is moving on through free agency. Gold Glove first baseman Derrek Lee has been traded to the Cubs for first baseman Hee Seop Choi. And right fielder Juan Encarnacion isn't expected back.


The loss of Rodriguez and Lee freed up money to sign Castillo and Lowell, while providing flexibility to pursue other players, especially bullpen help.


Pitching, speed and defense again promise to be the strengths of the team. The Marlins plan to operate with a payroll in the $60 million range, and like they did last year, the front office is striving to be as competitive as possible while operating within budget.




2003 Finish: 91-71, second place (Wild Card), NL East. World Series champions.


Deals so far: Traded 1B Derrek Lee to the Cubs for 1B Hee Seop Choi. Declined signing free agent C Ivan Rodriguez. Re-signed 2B Luis Castillo, 3B Mike Lowell, utility INF Mike Mordecai, RHP Chad Fox, INF Lenny Harris and OF Gerald Williams. Declined arbitration to RHP Ugueth Urbina, OF Todd Hollandsworth and RHP Rick Helling.


Players eligible for arbitration: RHP Brad Penny, RHP A.J. Burnett, LHP Mark Redman, RHP Carl Pavano, RHP Braden Looper, RHP Toby Borland, LHP Armando Almanza, LHP Michael Tejera, C Mike Redmond, RF Juan Encarnacion, SS Alex Gonzalez, INF/OF Brian Banks, C Ramon Castro.


Free agents: C Ivan Rodriguez, RHP Ugueth Urbina, RHP Rick Helling, OF Todd Hollandsworth


Needs: The addition of Choi provides a left-handed hitter to a lineup minus lefty pop. But Choi remains unproven, and while the lineup was good enough to win the World Series in 2003, the team could use lefty bats with power. Juan Pierre and Choi are the only left-handers in the order, discounting the switch-hitting Castillo. The back end of the bullpen must be addressed, especially if Urbina doesn't return. The status of Looper, too, is up in the air. With Rodriguez not coming back, the Marlins could go with Ramon Castro and Mike Redmond behind the plate. But that doesn't rule out the team making a run for another veteran.


Dealing strengths: Sometime before June, Burnett is expected to rejoin the rotation after undergoing Tommy John surgery in early May. That gives the Marlins a surplus of proven starters. Most likely to be dealt is arbitration-eligible left-hander Mark Redman, who tied for the team high with 14 wins. The Marlins dealt several key minor leaguers during the season to obtain Urbina and outfielder Jeff Conine. So the depth to deal at the minor league level isn't what it was. However, the minor league system has some quality players that could be used as trade bait, if need be.


Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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