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Nolasco handling trade speculation in stride

Nolasco handling trade speculation in stride

Nolasco handling trade speculation in stride

MIAMI -- All Ricky Nolasco is focused on right now is his next start, which is Friday for Miami against the Padres at Marlins Park.

Anything else that could be a distraction, the right-hander is simply ignoring.

The subject of nonstop trade rumors, Nolasco finds it best to just concentrate on pitching. The way he sees it, the speculation is out of his hands.

Not that Nolasco isn't aware of what is being said and written. He understands that his tenure with the Marlins will likely be over by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Until he is told he is going somewhere else, he is enjoying his time in the organization that gave him his first big league opportunity.

"It's been fun working with these young kids in the rotation, getting to know them," Nolasco said. "I'm just blocking all that other stuff out. All of that is out of my control, so I'm just trying to go out there and get my teammates' respect, and just concentrate on what is going on with us every day."

In the final season of his three-year, $26.5 million contract, Nolasco is making $11.5 million in 2013.

As an organization, the Marlins are going through a transition. They restructured their roster from the past couple of seasons, with Nolasco being one of the few veterans they brought back. But the 30-year-old is a free agent in 2014, and he no longer is part of the franchise's future plans.

Since the Winter Meetings last December, it's been no secret that the Marlins expected Nolasco to be with them on Opening Day. All along, he was viewed as a potential trade chip.

The youthful Miami squad is showing signs of improvement, posting a 13-9 record in June. Starting pitching is a big reason; the staff has allowed three or fewer runs in 10 straight games.

Still, the Marlins' 27-50 record is the worst in baseball, and Nolasco is aware he is on the trade block. Currently, more than a half-dozen teams are in contention. It's a matter of time, perhaps as soon as days, that something gets close to being finalized.

The Marlins have been in active discussions with teams primarily in the National League West and American League East.

A Southern California native, Nolasco naturally would prefer to pitch on the West Coast. Every team in the NL West has expressed some level of interest. So it is possible the right-hander, on Friday, could be facing a San Diego squad he may eventually join.

The Dodgers are reportedly heavily interested, but so are the Giants and D-backs. Colorado also has made inquiries.

In the AL East, the Orioles have been keeping tabs and filling out scouting reports on Nolasco. The Yankees are managed by Joe Girardi, who managed Nolasco during his 2006 rookie season.

The Red Sox were also among the teams scouting Nolasco in his last start, at San Francisco on June 21.

By nature, Nolasco is low-keyed and professional. He entered the season knowing there was a strong likelihood that he wouldn't finish the year with Miami.

If the uncertainty has bothered him, he never showed it publicly. He's gone about his business, preparing himself for every start and being a good teammate. It hasn't always been easy, considering the struggles the Marlins went through in April and May, falling well off the pace before showing progress in June.

Nolasco has already been traded once in his career, so he knows the business of the game.

After the 2005 season, the Marlins went through a roster overhaul, moving a majority of their veteran players. Then a prospect, Nolasco was acquired from the Cubs as part of the Juan Pierre trade.

"Just being around the league, you learn how to handle things," Nolasco said. "You see how things happen, and stuff."

In his eighth season with the Marlins, Nolasco has set a number of franchise records, including wins (80), innings pitched (1,213 2/3) and strikeouts (988).

Now, he is one of the high-profile Miami players mentioned in trade speculation.

Slugger Giancarlo Stanton is also the subject of rumors. But unlike Nolasco, the Marlins are not shopping the 23-year-old right fielder.

Miami is expected to keep Stanton for the rest of the season and make him a multiyear contract offer prior to 2014.

Stanton will reach arbitration next year and, unless he signs, will be eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

There are no indications Stanton will sign long term. Even if he doesn't, the Marlins still may look to build around him in 2014. They can decide at a later date if they want to trade one of the most feared hitters in the game.

Closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn also have been mentioned in trade talks. Both will be heading to arbitration next year, and the organization views them as pieces to move forward with.

As July approaches, and trade talks pick up, Nolasco remains the most likely player to be moved out of Miami.

If that is the case, the right-hander is handling the speculation in stride.

"It has nothing to do with me," he said. "I have no say in it. I'm not going to stress about it. Whatever happens, happens."

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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