12/03/07 10:30 PM EST
Suitors lining up for Cabrera
At least five teams reportedly in the mix for young slugger
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MLB.com has learned there are a minimum of five teams vying for the services of the Marlins' 24-year-old slugger.
While the Angels are regarded as the front-runner, the Dodgers are showing lukewarm interest. A third team exploring ways to obtain Cabrera is the White Sox. The clubs have had some discussions, and the two other teams have not been disclosed.
Previously, the Rangers and Giants showed interest in the Marlins third baseman, but neither team now is considered in the mix.
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, like Cabrera, is a Venezuela native. The two have been close friends for years. When the Marlins won the World Series in 2003, Cabrera's rookie season, Guillen was the third-base coach.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and a majority of the team's front-office officials arrived in Nashville for the Winter Meetings on Monday afternoon. With the entire league converged in Nashville, the Marlins will explore as many scenarios for Cabrera as possible.
Cabrera, 24, is a four-time All-Star who has already established himself as one of the most feared hitters in the game. The Marlins have had strong discussions in recent weeks with the Angels. Those discussions have centered on luring in second baseman Howie Kendrick, catcher Jeff Mathis and at least one starting pitcher, perhaps Double-A right-hander Nick Adenhart.
Florida has a blanket policy of seeking to return pitching in any trade it makes. Considering the high market value of a superstar like Cabrera, the club feels it can garner at least one quality arm in return.
The Marlins ideally would like to address center field as well, and Reggie Willits is under consideration.
While the Marlins are expected to aggressively try to deal Cabrera at the Winter Meetings, the club has already started conversations regarding its arbitration-eligible players.
In all, Florida has eight players up for arbitration, including Cabrera. However, the Marlins are not expected to attempt to sign the slugger, who is coming off a .320 season during which he belted 34 home runs and drove in 119 runs.
Cabrera made $7.4 million in 2007, and he is in line to earn more than $10 million in '08.
As the Marlins weigh all options for Cabrera, they also are in the process of dealing with their other arbitration-eligible players.
Last week, Florida officials contacted agent Matt Sosnick about three of his clients who are going through arbitration. Sosnick represents Dontrelle Willis, Sergio Mitre and now reliever Justin Miller.
Also up for Florida are catchers Miguel Olivo and Matt Treanor, along with infielder/outfielder Alfredo Amezaga and closer Kevin Gregg. Olivo is not expected back, and the organization views Treanor as a backup.
For now, the Marlins intend on keeping Willis, unless the club receives a trade offer too inviting to pass up.
Willis and Mitre are projected to be part of the 2008 rotation, while Miller is coming off a strong season in a setup role.
The Marlins are striving to upgrade their rotation, and the team is exploring internal options. According to a National League source, Florida is weighing whether to use left-hander Renyel Pinto as a starter instead of a reliever. Pinto made 57 relief appearances in 2007, and he is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League.
The agent of Marlins pitching prospect Brett Sinkbeil was at the Winter Meetings on Monday. Representative Darek Braunecker said his client is coming off a solid season in the Hawaii Winter Baseball.
Pitching for North Shore Honolulu, Sinkbeil went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in eight games, with seven starts. In all, the right-hander threw 33 innings, striking out 24 while walking 16.
A first-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, Sinkbeil pitched at Class A Jupiter this past season, finishing 6-4 with a 3.42 ERA in 14 starts.
Sinkbeil was injured during the year, suffering a lower back injury while doing a leg press in the weight room.
Sinkbeil will be invited to the Marlins' Spring Training camp in February, but he is expected to open the season at Double-A Carolina. The right-hander has been primarily a starter, but there is a chance he could be switched to the bullpen.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.