Marlins to be patient looking for starting pitching

Club willing to monitor market for a while before trying to add to rotation

Marlins to be patient looking for starting pitching

MIAMI -- At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins were overwhelmed by calls regarding Jose Fernandez, with roughly 20 teams angling for their 23-year-old ace. But the club didn't receive an offer it couldn't refuse.

So, as the Fernandez fury settled, the Marlins went back to the business of trying to find seasoned starting pitching. To find the right fit, they're willing to be patient.

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The club also has learned a valuable lesson about the process.

"It tells us we should draft a lot of pitching," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "It's always a competitive market when you talk about starting pitching. That's why we've always tried to groom and develop our starting pitching. We're in conversations. If we see something that makes us better, we'll pursue it."

What clearly came out of the Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., is the price to acquire pitching -- either as free agents or via trade -- is exorbitantly high.

Free agents? David Price signed with the Red Sox for $217 million, and Zack Greinke's deal with the D-backs is for $206.5 million.

Trades? At the Meetings, Arizona acquired right-hander Shelby Miller and left-hander Gabe Speier from the Braves for Dansby Swanson, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-hander Aaron Blair.

The Marlins are "listening" on Fernandez, and they are seeking a return substantially greater than the Miller deal. Numerous sources sense it will be extremely difficult to find such a fit before Spring Training opens in mid-February.

Miami faces additional challenges in securing a starter, because the club is limited financially and doesn't have as much organizational depth as some other teams.

If they go the free-agent route, the Marlins insist they can't miss. The team swung and missed on free agents and trades last offseason. They signed first baseman Michael Morse for two years and $16 million. And Mat Latos, who made $9.5 million this past year, was acquired from the Reds for Anthony DeSclafani and Minor League catcher Chad Wallach. DeSclafani is a promising pitcher in Cincinnati's rotation. Morse and Latos were dealt to the Dodgers in July.

Due to cost, Miami isn't in the free-agent mix for Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake.

A potential free-agent target has emerged -- Bartolo Colon. The Marlins have interest. They're also monitoring the markets for Yovani Gallardo and Scott Kazmir.

In the upcoming weeks, the Marlins plan on attending the workouts of Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee. Both could become options. Miami may see if Barry Bonds, the club's new hitting coach, can use his San Francisco ties to talk Lincecum into coming to South Florida.

A couple of trade options are Tyson Ross and James Shields. The Padres have made both available. But the cost to acquire either pitcher would likely include Marcell Ozuna, which would create another need -- finding a center fielder.

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.