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12/11/08 4:33 PM EST

Marlins on lookout for catching depth

After releasing Treanor, Florida in market for backup to Baker

LAS VEGAS -- Adding catching depth was a priority when the Marlins came to the Winter Meetings, and it remains so as the club exited Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon.

Actually, instead of locating another catcher, Florida subtracted in that area. Early Thursday morning, it released veteran Matt Treanor, who had been with the organization since 1997.

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said the team had tried to trade Treanor for several weeks, but no deal could be reached. With the 32-year-old in line to make $900,000 or more in arbitration, Florida was going to non-tender him on Friday.

The team ended up releasing Treanor to free up a 40-man roster spot to participate in the Rule 5 Draft.

"We spent the last couple of weeks really trying to trade him," Beinfest said. "We weren't able to do that. We made a decision [Wednesday] night. I spoke with him [Wednesday] night. He was upset, understandably, but he will be fine. He will get a job, and he will be fine."

The Tigers, Pirates and Orioles were teams mentioned as trade possibilities that didn't pan out.

Internally, the Marlins have some candidates to be John Baker's backup behind the plate. Mike Rabelo becomes the early front-runner to win the spot.

Obtained from the Tigers last year at the Winter Meetings, Rabelo is a switch-hitter who was bothered by a variety of injuries last year. His left knee and hip were banged up in a collision at home plate in Spring Training, and his right hand absorbed a foul ball, causing more ailments. He recently resumed baseball activities.

Brett Hayes and Brad Davis are two prospects getting closer to being big league-ready.

Beinfest noted the team is exploring catching on the market.

"You're always looking for catching," Beinfest said. "It seems to be an annual thing for us. We know Rabelo can do it. It's a matter of him being healthy."

A couple of other options to keep an eye on are free agent Michael Barrett and the Rangers' Max Ramirez. The Marlins had some preliminary talks regarding Barrett at the Winter Meetings.

Ramirez has been on Florida's radar since the General Managers Meetings in November. In return for Ramirez, a source said, Texas is seeking a pitching prospect like lefty Aaron Thompson or right-hander Ryan Tucker.

Also at the Meetings, the Marlins gauged interest for outfielder Jeremy Hermida. The Rangers and the Mariners presented offers that didn't materialize.

"I don't think we expected anything major," Beinfest said of the Meetings. "We wanted to do something. We weren't able to get it done, in that respect. Trading Matt [Treanor] was one of those things we wanted to do, and we weren't able to do it.

"It's not over yet. Free agents can still sign, and things are changing. Clubs needs don't go away. It's always going on. We're just looking for baseball deals and ways to upgrade."

Several Marlins are playing winter ball. But the team has shut down Anibal Sanchez, who made two appearances in his native Venezuela. Sanchez, projected to be in the rotation, is physically fine. The team feels he doesn't need the extra work.

In the Dominican Republic, outfielder Alejandro De Aza has begun playing.

Deals done: Some scenarios were explored, but no deals got done.

Rule 5 activity: In the Major League phase, the Marlins selected lefty reliever Zach Kroenke from the Yankees' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club. In the Triple-A phase, Florida picked shortstop Ryan Klosterman from Toronto, along with right-handed pitchers Brett Harker and Ronald Hill. Both were in the Phillies' system. The lone player the Marlins lost was lefty Matt Yourkin, taken by the Giants.

Goals accomplished: Before reaching the Winter Meetings, the Marlins accomplished many of their objectives. Three trades before the Meetings aligned the roster with the payroll, reducing the urgency to make any trades in Vegas. The team now continues to explore possible deals that make sense. If it doesn't, it will stay the course until Spring Training.

Unfinished business: Adding catching depth continues to be a tiresome process. The lack of quality catching throughout the league, and the cost to acquire it when there is some, makes it difficult for the club to secure a complement for Baker. Now that Treanor has been released, the club should intensify its search.

Bottom line: "It will probably be quiet from here through the holidays. Basically, we're the same as everybody else. We'll go home, do our paperwork [Friday] and spend next week in the office, cleaning up and following up." -- Beinfest

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.