As Jose rumors subside, Marlins set for quiet exit

Marlins came to Meetings eyeing pitching upgrades, but unable to find fit

As Jose rumors subside, Marlins set for quiet exit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- After two days of non-stop speculation, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill on Wednesday hoped he put to rest the stream of rumors that Jose Fernandez was going to be traded.

Miami's mission heading into the Winter Meetings was to pursue starting pitching, but it quickly turned into a frenzy of reports stating one of the game's top starters could be had for an exorbitant price.

"I didn't come to the Meetings thinking we were going to trade Jose Fernandez," Hill said. "That was the furthest thing from my mind. I came here thinking we were going to try to build and add to him."

The Marlins are braced to exit Nashville without making any significant moves. They plan on participating in the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday morning, and then exit Nashville quietly.

For much of Monday and Tuesday, however, much of their time was absorbed fielding calls from roughly 20 teams inquiring if Fernandez, the 23-year-old sensation, could be acquired.

"The rumors took a whole life of their own," Hill said. "You have to deal with them. You have to address them, but from our standpoint, we'll continue. The offseason, by no means, is it over. We'll continue to work to find ways to make us better."

Before heading to the Winter Meetings, Miami officials expected some inquires about Fernandez, especially after David Price signed for $217 million with the Red Sox, and Zack Greinke went to the D-backs for $206.5 million.

"I understand why the rumors were out there," Hill said. "If it's going to cost you $200-plus million to get a top-of-the-rotation guy, then why wouldn't you check on a guy who is maybe $20 million for the next three years? It just makes sense. I would do the same. I understand why the calls were being made. I totally understand that. Where it goes from here, I don't know."

Fernandez is entering his first year of arbitration, and he is three seasons away from qualifying for free agency.

With Fernandez expected to sit at the top of Miami's rotation, the quest remains to find a proven starter capable of throwing 180 or more innings.

Some potential options are now off the board. Wade Miley was dealt this week from Boston to Seattle, and John Lackey signed as a free agent with the Cubs. Both were on Miami's radar.

Free agents such as Wei Yin-Chen, Scott Kazmir and Yovani Gallardo are still on the market. But Mike Leake reportedly is in talks with the Nationals.

The price for trade candidates also is high, demonstrated by the Shelby Miller deal between Arizona and Atlanta.

"You've seen the trades," Hill said. "The trades are probably as expensive as the dollars, in terms of players. From that standpoint, it will be interesting to see. When trades happen, and you see the costs to acquire a particular pitcher, you just take notice of what it's going to take.

"If this is what you want to do, you have to be prepared to pony up, either in players or in dollars. That's sort of where we're at right now, working through that, talking with agents, talking to teams to see. We have exhausted a lot of our upper-level system."

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.