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Marlins' offseason needs grow with proposed trade

Marlins' offseason needs grow with proposed trade

Marlins' offseason needs grow with proposed trade
MIAMI -- Heading into the offseason, the Marlins' primary position of need was third base. You can add front-line starting pitching and center field to the list.

On Tuesday night, the Marlins were reportedly working to dramatically reshape their roster with one of the biggest trades in franchise history. Nothing has been formally announced, but various sources have reported Miami would be sending Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio to the Blue Jays.

In return, the Marlins would obtain at least seven players: shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, catcher Jeff Mathis, lefty Justin Nicolino, outfielder Jake Marisnick and righty Anthony DeSclafani.

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The trade removes $159.75 million in base salary commitments to Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle and Buck. And Bonifacio, who made $2.2 million in 2012, is in line for a pay raise in arbitration.

Johnson, a two-time All-Star, has been Miami's ace, and Buehrle was the No. 2 starter last season. Those departures would mean the Marlins will be revamping the front end of the rotation.

Alvarez would immediately join the rotation. The 22-year-old right-hander was 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA in 2012. In 187 1/3 innings, he struck out 79 and walked 54.

Ricky Nolasco, under contract for $11.5 million in 2013, is the most experienced veteran on the staff. A potential free agent next year, there is speculation that he may get moved.

If Nolasco doesn't, the Marlins have youngsters Jacob Turner and Nathan Eovaldi projected to join the 29-year-old righty in the rotation. Wade LeBlanc, who showed versatility as a starter and a reliever, could find himself in the mix for a rotation spot. He could be a lefty to potentially replace Buehrle.

Miami's infield will certainly have a new look, with Escobar and Hechavarria projected as the new double-play combination.

Hechavarria, a 21-year-old Cuban native, is a slick fielder who can play shortstop or second base. In 41 games for the Blue Jays, he batted .254 with two home runs and 15 RBIs. A right-handed hitter, Hechavarria finished strong, batting .295 in September. He appeared in 17 games at shortstop, 18 at third base and eight at second base.

Escobar, who turned 30 on Nov. 2, is a natural shortstop, and he had a .982 fielding percentage in 143 games last season. Also from Cuba, Escobar had his struggles at the plate in 2012, batting .253 with nine home runs and 51 RBIs. He is a career .282 hitter.

The Marlins will continue to search for help at third base. Hechavarria may be an option, or perhaps the team will give Donovan Solano a shot there or at second base.

At catcher, Mathis basically will replace Buck as a veteran presence. Buck, signed for $6 million in 2013, returns to Toronto. And Mathis, 29, projects to be a backup or platoon option with Rob Brantly.

With Bonifacio gone, center field is wide open. Gorkys Hernandez is a speedster, and Bryan Petersen is another option from the current roster.

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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