Marlins acquire Latos from Reds
SAN DIEGO (AP) The Miami Marlins are serious about contending in the NL East. If signing slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a massive contract last month wasn't proof enough, a late flurry at the winter meetings sure made it clear.
Miami acquired right-hander Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday morning for pitching prospect Anthony DeSclafani and minor league catcher Chad Wallach, just a short nap after landing All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon in a flashy seven-player trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers late Wednesday night.
''We want to build and we want to be competitive every year, and we want our team to play into October,'' said Mike Hill, Miami's president of baseball operations.
The Reds traded away two arbitration-eligible starters in quick succession Thursday morning to help meet payroll restrictions. They also sent Alfredo Simon to the Detroit Tigers for two more youngsters, right-hander Jonathon Crawford and infielder Eugenio Suarez.
''This is it for now,'' Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said after a busy final morning at the winter meetings. ''We got close to where we need to be - payroll-wise.''
The Marlins gave up their top pitching prospect, left-hander Andrew Heaney, in the deal for Gordon and right-hander Dan Haren.
Haren has indicated he might retire rather than play for a team far from his family in Southern California, and Miami dealt its next-best pitching prospect in DeSclafani to add rotation depth.
''I think the Latos deal has really insulated us from that, so if anything happens in that direction, we still have a formidable rotation,'' Hill said. ''And if he stays, we have the player that we wanted.''
The 27-year-old Latos is coming off an injury-plagued season. He made only 16 starts because of knee and elbow problems, going 5-5 with a 3.25 ERA. He will help bolster a Miami rotation that will be without 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez, who is recovering from May elbow-reconstruction surgery, until the middle of 2015.
''That was the one thing we really wanted to do, is to make sure our rotation didn't have a drop-off and we remain strong until the return of Jose,'' Hill said.
The Reds had to decide which starters to trade and which to try to sign after the season with Simon, Latos, 20-game winner Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake all in line for significant raises. Latos made $7.25 million in the final year of a two-year deal last season and is eligible for arbitration - as is Simon.
Latos and Simon both could become free agents after next season. Trading the pair gives the Reds - 12th with a $115 million payroll this year - at least a chance to sign Cueto long-term.
''I'm not sure we'll be able to do something or not, but it's something we'll explore,'' Jocketty said. ''Obviously.''
The Marlins are adding pieces around Stanton, given a record $325 million, 13-year contract last month.
Gordon led the majors with 64 stolen bases last season and made his first All-Star team. He was surprised by the trade but is excited to play in Florida in front of family, including his father, former major leaguer Tom Gordon.
Gordon is especially excited to make noise on the bases for Stanton, the NL home run champ. Gordon got to know him while in Double-A.
''He hit the farthest home run I think I've ever seen in my life,'' Gordon said. ''It's going to be amazing to hit in front of him.''
Hill said the Marlins aren't done yet: They're looking for a first baseman.
DeSclafani, who will turn 25 in April, was a sixth-round pick by Toronto in the 2011 draft. He made 13 appearances, including five starts, for the Marlins this year, and went 2-2 with a 6.27 ERA.
He impressed Jocketty enough that he'll get a shot at starting for the Reds.
''We think that DeSclafani will be a guy who will probably fit in our rotation,'' he said. ''He made some great strides with them at the end of the year.''
Wallach is the son of former big leaguer Tim Wallach. The 23-year-old was the Marlins' fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft.
Also, the Marlins sent Dan Jennings, a 27-year-old left-handed reliever, to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday for 26-year-old right-hander Andre Rienzo.
AP Sports Writers Ronald Blum and Joe Kay contributed to this report.