Marlins' activity a sign Fernandez staying put

Addition of Chen, extension for Gordon offer hope of contending

Marlins' activity a sign Fernandez staying put

MIAMI -- Each addition the Marlins make now dramatically reduces the chances they are looking to subtract from the core of their roster.

After a mostly quiet offseason, Miami made its big splash this week, agreeing to terms with free-agent lefty Wei-Yin Chen, and signing All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon to a five-year contract. The two moves strongly indicate that the club is not intending to trade either Jose Fernandez or Marcell Ozuna.

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The Marlins are positioning themselves to contend in 2016, as opposed to going into a rebuilding mode -- which would be the signal if Fernandez is dealt. Trading Ozuna also would make it difficult to stay in the race, because the club would being creating an outfield need in hopes of filling a pitching slot.

Fernandez and Ozuna have been two of the most common names seen on the trade-rumor front.

Marlins lock up Gordon

How seriously have the Marlins contemplated trading either one? Clearly, Ozuna was the more available, because without signing a free-agent pitcher, some speculated the club didn't have many other options to dangle in a trade for a front-line starter.

Speculation about Fernandez, meanwhile, has mostly been smoke since mid-November. No potential deal ever really had legs, although the 23-year-old right-hander was linked to the D-backs, Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and others.

The Marlins didn't do much to stop the rumors. They made it clear at the Winter Meetings and afterwards that they would listen on all their players, including Fernandez. For perspective, during the offseason, the Nationals explored trading lefty Gio Gonzalez to Miami for left fielder Christian Yelich, but that inquiry didn't go anywhere. Some teams called on Gordon, but that generated only a little trade buzz.

Still, about 20 teams at the Winter Meetings checked in on Fernandez, the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year Award winner.

The Marlins made it clear they would only consider trading their ace for a substantial package of players. Names were exchanged, but since the asking price was so high, teams like the Dodgers walked away when Miami was seeking infielder Corey Seager and much more in return.

Fernandez is eligible for arbitration for the first time right now. The Marlins are hoping they can reach agreement on a contract by Friday's salary exchange deadline. Perhaps the team is quietly making an attempt to reach a multiyear deal with Fernandez. If so, and if they were to get a deal done, that would be stunning news. If not, getting their ace signed for 2016 this week would allow the organization to focus on rounding out the roster prior to Spring Training.

Ozuna and Fernandez are both represented by Scott Boras. He is also the agent of Chen, who agreed to a five-year, $80 million deal on Tuesday.

Gordon, the reigning NL batting champ, avoided arbitration by coming to terms on a five-year, $50 million deal Wednesday night.

In the span of two days, Miami committed $130 million to two players. That was a signal to the rest of the team, the league and the fan base that the Marlins are hoping to contend, not retool, in 2016.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for 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.