Fish Bites: Marlins Sign John Maine To A Minor League Contract, Can Expect Big Turnout

Doug Pensinger

Miami signed John Maine to a minor league contract early last week. With a rotation that is expected to be fairly young, John Maine will have every opportunity to earn a spot in the rotation come time for Spring Training.

If any of the other 29 major league baseball team's signed a pitcher that hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2010, it would be soft news. However, for the Miami Marlins, signing right handed pitcher John Maine to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training is the Los Angeles equivalent of signing Albert Pujols last offseason (who the Marlins extended an offer to, though it was wisely not accepted [see Marlins' blockbuster trade with Toronto]).

Though he is not a lock, Maine is a strong candidate to win a spot in the rotation. He spent five of his seven major league seasons with the New York Mets, most recently in 2010.

In 108 career games, Maine is 41-36 with a 4.35 earned run average. Heading into spring training, Miami's rotation is expected to contain several young starters, such as Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Turner, and possibly a Wade LeBlanc. Maine could provide stability and serve as a veteran leader in the clubhouse, something that manager Mike Redmond said he will look for in some of his older players. Assuming that he isn't dealt before the start of the season, Ricky Nolasco is expected to be Miami's opening day starter.

Another thing that Maine brings to the table, if he were to win a starting job, is experience pitching in the National League East. Something that the young Eovaldis and Turners of the world lack but will eventually learn, Maine is familiar with how to pitch to Ryan Zimmerman and Chase Utley, for example. The fact that he pitched for the Mets and knows how to pitch to some of the NL East's best hitters makes the fact that the Marlins decided to sign him that much more significant.

Maine's best big league season was 2007, when he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 31 starts. A player's win-loss record and ERA are likely considered when deciding whether to sign a player, however Miami would most likely be content with a healthy Maine that made between 25-30 starts (assuming he wins the job).

In 2012, Maine went 8-5 with a 4.97 ERA with the Yankee's triple-A affiliate.

At worst, if he chooses to stay, Maine could provide the Marlins with depth at the minor league level, in case one of the five starters were to get injured. If he earns a spot in the rotation, though, he could be a candidate to have a successful season.

-The Marlins are not interested in Cuban defector Dariel Alvarez, according to a report. Miami spoke to Yoenis Cespedes last offseason, though he eventually signed with Oakland. Alvarez will work out for major league scouts on Jan. 5, and a Miami scout is not expected to be present.

-Miami has reportedly stopped searching for a center fielder. The Marlins were reportedly quietly looking for center field options, however it appears that the team will stick with Justin Ruggiano, who was acquired from Tampa Bay last season, in center.

-Joe Frisaro of MLB.com doesn't expect prospect Christian Yelich to be starting in center field for the Marlins to begin 2013, even if he has a great spring training.

-Miami has been looking for starting pitchers with previous big league experience, and got exactly that by signing John Maine to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training last week.

-Though they have made it clear that they are not looking to trade Giancarlo Stanton, Assistant General Manager Dan Jennings told ESPN that the Marlins would listen to offers on the young slugger. There has been speculation Stanton could be traded prior to the start of the season. "We've never not listened to a deal on any player," Jennings said.

-Donovan Solano is expected to start at second base and Adeiny Hechavarria is expected to be the opening day shortstop for Miami, according to a report. Solano saw time at second base towards the end of last season, specifically after the Marlins traded Omar Infante to Detroit.

-Dan Jennings also told ESPN that the Marlins aren't going to surprise anybody and pursue any of the top free agents left on the market. Miami signed Juan Pierre and Placido Polanco, who were both free agents, to one year contracts.

Around The League

-The Milwaukee Brewers have reportedly signed reliever Mike Gonzalez to a one-year contract. In 47 games with Washington last season, he had a 3.03 ERA.

-After being released from prison, former Marlin Ugueth Urbina hopes to return to baseball, according to a report.

-The New York Mets signed pitcher Aaron Laffey to a minor league deal on Thursday. Laffey went 4-6 with Toronto last season.

-Former Yankee Hideki Matsui announced that he has decided to retire , ending a ten year major-league career. Matsui also spent time with the Rays and Athletics.

At Fish Stripes

-Here is the truth about the Marlins, attendance, and contention.

-The Marlins and Major League Baseball recently released new batting practice caps. Find Miami's new cap here.

-What's the truth about Marlins Park and scoring runs?

-Though they have publicly said that they won't, here's why the Marlins should pursue Dariel Alvarez.

-Would Christian Yelich and Jose Fernandez sign long term with the Marlins?

-Here is a bit more about John Maine.

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