MIAMI -- Since the start of the Hot Stove season, the Marlins have stated their top priority is adding starting pitching depth behind their ace, Jose Fernandez. Now a report Tuesday afternoon questions whether Fernandez will be part of Miami's 2016 plans.
Craig Mish of SiriusXM, via Twitter, claimed there is a "growing sentiment around baseball and internally with the Marlins is Jose Fernandez will be traded this offseason." Multiple high-placed sources told MLB.com that the club is not shopping or intending to shop the 23-year-old, who is one of the most popular players in recent team history.
Whether the Marlins have a change of thinking, and indeed show a willingness to deal the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner, remains to be seen. Conversations are ongoing with a number of clubs about possible trade scenarios. None are believed to include a major core player like Fernandez.
Perhaps a tempting offer will be presented, but Miami already is short on high-end pitching, and Fernandez will not be a free agent until after the 2018 season. So there is no urgency to move him.
Speculation about a possible trade comes a week after Marlins president David Samson and Fernandez's agent, Scott Boras, exchanged some harsh comments.
Boras represents three Marlins players: Fernandez, outfielder Marcell Ozuna and right-hander Jarred Cosart. At the General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., last week, Boras was critical of Miami for optioning Ozuna to Triple-A New Orleans in July.
Samson responded with some pointed comments about Boras.
Also at the GM Meetings, Boras was asked about an innings limit for Fernandez for 2016.
"The doctors are going to prescribe a graduated program for him," Boras told reporters. "He threw somewhere in the area of 65-70 innings. Obviously, that jump to where he's going to go. I think his career high is 170-180. I'm sure we'll have discussions about that in the offseason."
Samson responded by saying Boras will not be consulted by the Marlins regarding Fernandez's innings.
"He will not be involved in any discussion as it relates to Jose Fernandez," Samson said. "We will be in touch with the doctors and Jose as we formulate a plan."
Fernandez, who underwent Tommy John surgery May 16, 2014, made his 2015 debut July 2. He went on the disabled list on Aur. 11 with a right biceps strain and returned Sept. 12.
In 11 starts, Fernandez was 6-1 with a 2.92 ERA, including 79 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings.
The Marlins approached Fernandez about a contract extension last offseason, but talks didn't go far.
The team is dealing with budget constraints. Miami's 2016 payroll is believed to be around $80 million. The team is hoping to not have to part with core players. But it may have tough choices to make to stay within budget.
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.