Volquez deal helps Miami add, but retain core

Agreeing with free-agent righty a step in right direction to upgrade roster without subtracting

Volquez deal helps Miami add, but retain core

MIAMI -- Adding pitching without subtracting from their big league roster has been a primary objective for Marlins. The organization moved a step in that direction Thursday when right-hander Edinson Volquez signed a two-year, $22 million contract.

With Volquez set to join their rotation, the Marlins remain in the market for at least one more starter. In terms of the overall roster picture, Miami is also positioned to retain outfielder Marcell Ozuna and the rest of its core position players.

Hot Stove Tracker

Throughout the Hot Stove season, the Marlins have stated they do not want to move players off their big league roster. That stance remains, especially when it comes to Ozuna.

Ozuna's two-run homer

Ozuna has been the subject of trade speculation for more than a year. The 26-year-old could be in high demand if the Marlins heavily shopped him.

Last offseason, Ozuna was linked in trade discussions with Seattle for right-hander Taijuan Walker. On Wednesday, Walker was dealt to the D-backs in a five-player trade that sent shortstop Jean Segura to the Mariners.

Walker and Marte head to D-backs

Right-handed power bats are in short supply, and Ozuna was an All-Star for the first time in 2016, batting .266/.321/.452 with 23 home runs and 76 RBIs. The fact Ozuna is first-year arbitration-eligible also makes him attractive to clubs.

But at this point, there has been little to no dialogue from other clubs regarding Ozuna, as many teams are taking a wait-and-see approach on where the pitching market is headed.

For the right deal, however, the Marlins may consider trading Ozuna, but there is not much internal traction to do so. Rather than go the trade route, Miami appears more open to signing free agents, with Volquez being the first step.

Once Volquez's deal is official, the Marlins will have four set rotation spots. Volquez will join lefties Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Tom Koehler. David Phelps is a candidate to start, but the organization prefers that he stay in the back end of the bullpen.

Miami continues to explore free agents, and it has had internal discussions regarding free-agent starters Doug Fister, C.J. Wilson and Jonathon Niese.

The Marlins also are monitoring free-agent relievers, but closers such as Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman probably are out of their price range. Mark Melancon, who split time with the Pirates and Nationals in 2016, and Daniel Hudson, who appeared in 70 games with the D-backs, could be more realistic bullpen alternatives.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.