MIAMI -- Shortly before the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed on Wednesday, the Marlins decided to take one last chance at making a deal.
So at 3:45 p.m. ET, a text message was sent to an undisclosed team regarding a possible move. A few minutes after the 4 p.m. Deadline passed, Miami received a no thanks response.
"We threw out a couple of names," president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said.
When nothing materialized, the Marlins decided their best move was to make no moves.
"We've made a bunch of deals in the last year," Beinfest said. "Today wasn't our day to make a deal."
A year ago, the Marlins were highly active on the trade front, completing three major trades in the final week, including two by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Edward Mujica was sent to the Cardinals for prospect Zack Cox, and Gaby Sanchez was dealt to the Pirates as part of a package for outfielder Gorkys Hernandez.
The thinking, and feel around the team, is different now.
"We were on the phone," Beinfest said. "There were some texts. There were some ideas; we threw out an idea late. Kind of a normal day, but we never really got the sense that anything was close."
Despite being in last place in the National League East, the Marlins like their young nucleus, and hope to keep building around it.
"No doubt. We want to win games," Beinfest said. "It's hard when you're 25 games under and in last place to talk about either keeping would-be free agents or talk about winning games, but I'm not sure that's the whole story.
"For all of you who are here every day and our fans that watch us every day, it's a lot different story than April and May. So, we do think it's important. It's important for development. We want to build some momentum going into the offseason and to feel good about things. So, winning games is important for us."
The Marlins did make one big move this month, sending Ricky Nolasco to the Dodgers on July 6 for three pitching prospects, including Steven Ames, who was called up Sunday. Up until the final days before the Deadline, the Marlins made it clear they were intending to retain slugger Giancarlo Stanton, closer Steve Cishek and lefty reliever Mike Dunn.
All three are considered cornerstones.
In a transition season where the Marlins are developing a number of young players, Beinfest noted the climate around the club could have been different at the Trade Deadline if the team hadn't consistently improved since May 1.
"I think so. Look, if April and May continues, yeah, I think you do feel differently about things," Beinfest said. "Maybe you have to rethink your whole program in total. Guys are getting experience. Guys got healthy, and we started to look the way we were hopeful we would look right from the start. But it didn't work out that way. No doubt. The way we've played the last two months definitely mattered."
So much speculation has centered on Stanton's future.
The 23-year-old will be eligible for arbitration for the first time in 2014, and he won't be up for free agency until after the '16 season.
The Marlins have repeatedly told teams they have no intention of dealing Stanton. In the offseason, the club plans on discussing a long-term contract with the power-hitting right fielder. But there is no guarantee Stanton will be open to signing, instead opting to go through the arbitration process.
Stanton said the organization has talent. But success will come down to how quickly the young players overcome inconsistencies.
"It's there," Stanton said of the ability level. "But you've got games where you score six, seven runs, and you've got games where we get two hits and nothing. Or we go three games in a row with no runs. That can't happen. I don't care if you have three ex-Cy Young [Award winners] out there, that can't happen. That's where we're at."
The youthful squad has seen its ups and downs this year. In April and May, Miami combined for a 14-41 record. But since then, the club has spent two months playing above .500.
Yet, after the All-Star break, the Marlins were shut out a franchise-record three straight games at Milwaukee, and they set a club mark by going 37 straight innings without a run.
"The inconsistencies of a young team, you know you're going to have it," Stanton said. "It's just how quickly are you going to learn from it. You can have inconsistencies with a young team for two or three years, or half a season. Or, you can have it and get it over with and know what you're dealing with. But that takes a full year, and a full healthy year, as well."
The highlight of the season has been the strength of the pitching.
Because the starters have been so effective, the Marlins decided not to make any moves in the bullpen. That's why veteran Chad Qualls, a free agent after the season, wasn't moved, even though a number of teams called about his services.
"If you look at some of the would-be free agents, or guys that are maturing in terms of service time, if we didn't think it was important for them to be here or they're not productive, then obviously we would make a move," Beinfest said. "I think some of our more experienced players are filling vital roles here, and we looked at it in total and said, 'OK, what is their production? What is their contribution to the team both in the clubhouse and on the field, etc.?' And if they fit that role, we think they're helping, then absolutely we would want them to stay."
Qualls was moved at the July 31 Deadline in each of the past two seasons, and he's glad to remain in Miami.
"I like my spot here," Qualls said. "If you asked me about a month ago, I would have thought, no doubt, I'd probably be moved and been traded. But as the past couple of days went by, I think they were content with what we have. We're playing pretty good baseball."
The Marlins still could be active in August, when the waiver trading period gets under way.
Qualls, Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs, Justin Ruggiano and Juan Pierre are candidates to possibly be moved then.
"You never know," Beinfest said. "Things change every day. Injuries, people on a run, not on a run. You just never know."