Thanks to the new CBA, it has been a pretty boring off-season so far. In the past, clubs were actively trying to sign their free agents before the deadline. That has changed. The action should start with the GM meeting on Monday, though the Marlins aren't looking to do anything spectacular.
General manager Larry Beinfest said Thursday the club has talked with the representatives of Joe Borowski and Wes Helms.
"We have had conversations with both Wes Helms' and Joe Borowski's agents," Beinfest said. "Things are ongoing and we'll leave it at that."
The Marlins have through Saturday to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents. Sunday marks the first day free agents can sign with other clubs.
Sunday is actually the day, from my understanding, that the other clubs can approach the players who filed for free agency with offers. I would be very surprised if either Helms or Borowski agreed to a deal with a team on that date. It takes a little time to play the field.
The Marlins aren't going to expand the payroll much at all - big surprise.
That means no new big-ticket items, but the Marlins are looking to keep the ones they have.
Owner Jeffrey Loria has provided his front office with the 2007 budget. Last year, the Marlins spent about $19.6 million (including deferred payments) on the major league roster. The 2007 figure is expected to remain in that area.
I think some of the deferred payments have expired, I could be wrong, the web isn't cooperating, but I do know that all of the first year players will get a scheduled raise. The organization is also planning on signing both Willis and Cabrera, as they should. Neither will get a long term contract - another big surprise.
But we already knew this. Next year's payroll should be around $24MM. You know, the amount that A-Rod will get paid next year.
Beinfest will go to the meeting looking for help in the bullpen and at center field. Should he not be able to land a deal in our price range, and it is doubtful he will. The club is prepared to go with what it has got.
Some of the young starters may be switched to relievers and complemented by a couple of young relievers.
Chris Resop and Randy Messenger are hard throwers who are in the mix for setup spots.
As for center field, if a cheap deal cannot be had, the Marlins will go with what they did last year, with a possible exception.
Minor League prospect Brett Carroll is expected to get a shot at winning an outfield position in Spring Training.
In other words, unless Beinfest can work some magic, expect about the same lineup as last season. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. The players will have a year of seasoning under their belts and who knows, they may have even learned that the 7-Train goes to Shea and the 5-Train goes to Yankee Stadium.
Oh, who am I fooling, they will still take the wrong train when in New York - but one can dream.