MIAMI -- Through all the adversity and injuries, the Marlins have clung to hope, even as they've slipped in the standings. But as Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, and coming off a 3-7 road trip, the organization is doing a reality check and is prepared to make moves.
The mission is to avoid parting with core players, those signed or under club control through 2016, but that is subject to change, depending on what deals may arise by the end of the week.
"I think we're open-minded," assistant general manager Mike Berger said after the Marlins traded relieverSteve Cishek to the Cardinals last Friday. "I think we're open-minded both ways -- looking at where we are as a club right now, and looking at what we can do to improve this club."
As of late last week, management wasn't surrendering for this season, despite the fact that the Marlins are 12 games behind the first-place Nationals in the National League East. After a day off on Monday, Miami gets a chance to chip away at Washington when the two squads begin a three-game set at Marlins Park on Tuesday.
There is a chance All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon (dislocated left thumb) could be reinstated from the disabled list and play as early as Tuesday. But there also is a chance a handful of players currently in the clubhouse could be dealt. Right-handers Mat Latos and Dan Haren have been the two most notable, because both are going to be free agents this offseason and are not expected to return.
First baseman Michael Morse, who signed a two-year, $16 million contract last December, may also be on the move, especially if the Marlins agree to pick up half of his salary. Third baseman Martin Prado, a player Miami ideally would wish to retain, has also been rumored to be available. Prado is signed through 2016 for $11 million, but the Yankees are picking up $3 million. The Royals have been linked to Prado, but the versatile veteran isn't among their top targets.
Ideally, the Marlins would like to retain Prado. However, for the right price, they may be tempted to hammer out a trade.
If there is a mandate by owners to shed salaries, then that raises issues for potentially more trades. For now, there hasn't been any clear indication that's the plan. Although Miami is struggling, having lost three straight, the anticipation is the team will make things interesting down the stretch.
"There is a lot of season left to play," Berger said. "Again, you always have to have a casual eye on the future as well. It's uncertain. You don't know where this can go."
The path to salvaging the season includes getting Gordon and All-Star right fielder Giancarlo Stanton (broken left hand) back in the near future.
Latos has been linked to the Blue Jays, Cubs and Yankees. Haren also has been connected to the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Orioles.
"I know the phone never stops ringing," Berger said. "It's literally a wait-and-see [situation] right now."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.