The Florida Marlins have been making extreme tidal waves thus far this offseason with the trades of Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller and are about to make even more with their reported interest in Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton.
For the Marlins, their interest has come from left field, never have they been this active in trying to improve their team, this early in the offseason in quite a while. Part of it could be attributed to the eerily quiet offseason last year, where the Marlins made no big additions and ended up paying for it in the standings with a 80-82 record after their lofty expectations of a playoff berth.
According to reports and sources, a package of Logan Morrison and Ricky Nolasco would be enough to land the 23-year-old outfielder from Arizona, who was the first pick in the 2005 First Year Player Draft.
Nevertheless, the Marlins have been in negotiations to sign Ricky Nolasco to a long-term extension. Back in October, Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick said the sides had agreed on the number of years, but were "about 20 percent" off on the salary. He also anticipated talks to pick up again in November or December.
If contract talks go south (the Dan Uggla route), expect for trade talks to pick up with Nolasco's name attached. Back in July, Nolasco had his name mentioned in trade rumors in when the team was hovering around .500 coming out of the All-Star Break but after pulling together a win streak they kept Ricky Nolasco and saw themselves as buyers.
Nolasco was 14-9 with a 4.51 ERA in 26 stars in 2009 and can become a free agent after the 2012 season.
The Marlins would rather make a deal like this now than next offseason ahead of their new ballpark when they would would themselves as a championship-caliber team.
Yet any such trade is seen as a long shot because the Marlins value pitching and would be lacking in that department after Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Volstad. Acquiring Justin Upton at the cost of trading Morrison would likely mean that Chris Coghlan remains in left field versus going to center field if no trade occurred.
On the other hand, acquiring Justin Upton would be benefical for the Marlins since he is locked up through the 2015 season (five years at $49.5 million left), with a similar dollar amount offered to Dan Uggla (four years, $48 million). Upton is expected to earn $4,250,000 in 2011 and along with John Buck's $6 million annual salary would almost total up to the $12 million allocated for Dan Uggla had he signed a long-term deal.
The Marlins expect to raise payroll after the upcoming season to be aligned with the middle of the pack which is expected to be anywhere from $75 million to $85 million so Upton's latter years of the deal which rise into $14-15 million a season shouldn't be a holding point.
At the end of the day if any deal happens, it probably wouldn't be until December when Winter Meetings roll around and when the Marlins have had enough time to iron out contract talks with Ricky Nolasco but the way this offseason has gone you just never know what might happen next.