Miami Marlins starter Jose Fernandez pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)
Steve Nesius
December 03, 2015

MIAMI (AP) Right-hander Jose Fernandez isn't on the trading block as the Miami Marlins prepare for next week's winter meetings, president of baseball operations Michael Hill said Thursday.

The Marlins aren't eager to part with outfielder Marcell Ozuna either, Hill said. But they do want to reinforce their rotation, which may require trading an everyday player.

Speculation about Fernandez and Ozuna was stirred up by a recent spat between their agent and the Marlins.

''Jose sits at the front of our rotation,'' Hill said. ''He's a good pitcher, one of the best in the league, so you're going to get asked about him. But we are not shopping Jose Fernandez.''

Fernandez is arbitration-eligible for the first time.

There has been even more trade buzz regarding the 25-year-old Ozuna, who hit 23 homers in 2014 but slumped last year and was sent to Triple-A for six weeks. His agent, Scott Boras, complained last month about the demotion.

''Marcell's going to be a productive major league player,'' Hill said. ''We wholeheartedly believe that. To part with that type of talent, you don't take that lightly. We are not actively shopping him. Clubs are coming after him because he's a talented player.''

The Marlins may need to part with a position player to achieve their primary offseason goal - adding starting pitching. Doing so via free agent will be difficult given the Marlins' perennially small payroll.

The need for pitching became more acute Wednesday when Miami decided to non-tender 2015 opening day starter Henderson Alvarez, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Hill said he's happy with the everyday lineup as it stands, and the goal is to end a 12-year playoff drought in 2016.

''We feel like we're poised to do that,'' he said. ''We have an incredibly talented core of young players. We just need to try to create as much depth as we possibly can.''

The centerpiece of the lineup, Giancarlo Stanton, has made strides in his recovery from the hand injury that ended his season in June, Hill said. Stanton is experiencing no symptoms and has started to swing a bat, Hill said.

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