At the trading deadline, there were reportedly two teams trying to acquire closer Leo Nunez from the Marlins. The Marlins' front office told both that he was unavailable. It has recently been made clear why.
"Now I know why", one of the General Managers pursuing Nunez explained. "I admire Larry Beinfest for what he did".
When the two GM's attempted to trade for Nunez, they thought they were trying to get the 28 year old power-pitcher out of the Dominican Republic. Little did they know, they were actually heavily negotiating to receive 29 year old right hander Juan Oviedo. Nunez recently admitted that he used the identity of a childhood friend to try and get a better contract offer from the few MLB teams scouting him.
Fellow Latin pitcher Edward Mujica reached out to Oviedo and explained "Nunez's" reasoning.
"Latin players, it's crazy for us," Mujica stated. "They do it because they want to get a better life. If you sign at 16 years old you're going to get a lot of money. At 18, you get $5,000 and an opportunity to play. That's it."
Nunez, who is once again arbitration eligible, can make up to $6.5 million in 2012. Although it could be costly, the Marlins made it clear that they would show strong interest in bringing their closer back for the opening of their new ballpark. The question is, after all of what Nunez is currently going through, would they be willing to bring him back? And if they want to, will the MLB allow Nunez to play at the start of next season without giving him some kind of consequence? And lastly, did the team that is confident in it's off the field operations know about this from the day that they traded for him?
The Marlins have obviously made a strong push off the field heading into both a new city and stadium. The franchise has never really had any off the field player related situations. Although not the first one, it isn't logic for a team so focused on the product on the field to bring back a player that may cause a distraction heading into a new era in baseball (and Miami Marlins) history. But yet at the same time, it is highly doubtful that they will go after big name closers such as Jonathan Broxton or Heath Bell. There aren't really any internal candidates to consider, and it has already been rumored that they are heavily pursuing C.J. Wilson and other top notch left handed starting pitchers. While the payroll is going to take a significant increase, it may seem unreasonable to pay any closer more than the six and a half million Nunez is possibly going to make next year.
Nothing is set in stone, and no decisions are close to being made. However, there is some significance to the Nunez case. Oviedo lost his personal identity, and after a disappointing season in 2011, the Marlins may have lost theirs too.