Marlins deal Lindstrom to Astros
Florida bolsters Minor League system by trading reliever
INDIANAPOLIS -- At the expense of a hard-throwing reliever, the Marlins added depth to their Minor League system on Wednesday.
After measuring offers from a handful of teams, Florida traded right-hander Matt Lindstrom to the Houston Astros for prospects Robert Bono, Luis Bryan and a player to be named later.
That player turned out to be Minor League infielder Jorge Jimenez, who the Astros selected from the Red Sox organization in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft and then sent to Florida to complete the trade.
The Marlins consummated the deal -- their first move at the Winter Meetings -- early in the evening, after medical records were exchanged.
Eligible for arbitration for the first time, the 29-year-old Lindstrom is set to see his salary rise from $410,000 to about $1.4 million.
"We talked to Matty -- we wish him well," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said. "He's got a good arm."
In three seasons with Florida, Lindstrom was one of the club's most dependable relievers. He appeared in 54 games and recorded 15 saves in 17 chances in 2009, but his ERA was 5.89.
Lindstrom opened the season as the Marlins' closer, but he went on the disabled list with a right elbow sprain in May, missing 31 games.
Once Lindstrom was lost, Leo Nunez took over the job, and he'll head into Spring Training as the front-runner to close.
As for Lindstrom, he heads to Houston with 191 games of Major League experience.
"The Marlins gave me an opportunity the last few years," Lindstrom told MLB.com on Wednesday. "They were good to me."
Acquired from the Mets in November 2006, Lindstrom had an injury-plagued 2009 season.
While pitching for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, Lindstrom injured his right shoulder. For most of the year, he struggled with command of his fastball, which sits around 95-100 mph.
THE DEAL ON THE DEAL
Robert Bono, RHP
|The 6-foot-2 right-hander is a command specialist who throws his fastball about 88-90 mph. He locates the fastball well to both sides of the plate, and to complement it, he's got a good curve and a changeup he can throw for strikes. Taken in the 11th round of the 2007 Draft out of the Connecticut high school ranks, Bono has gotten bigger and stronger since he entered Houston's system. He was a South Atlantic League All-Star at age 21 in 2009, when he finished 10-8 with a 3.20 ERA. Over 143 1/3 innings, he gave up 158 hits and just 19 walks while striking out 66.|
Luis Bryan, SS
|Bryan made his United States debut at the age of 18 this past summer and performed well in the Gulf Coast League. The middle infielder hit .340 over 31 games and slugged .491, striking out 20 times without drawing a walk in 106 at-bats. The Dominican fits the mold of a raw shortstop; he's tall and athletic with good range and soft hands. He made 13 errors in 31 games, largely because he tended to be erratic with his throws. He's got the instincts and the tools to stay at shortstop.|
Lindstrom makes Denver his offseason home. In mid-November, he traveled to Miami to take what he called an exit physical. He underwent an MRI on his elbow, and the reports revealed that he was healthy.
The Marlins continue to explore trade options, and the team remains active in trying to deal two-time All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla and lefty reliever Renyel Pinto.
Primary needs for Florida are relief help and a left-handed bat off the bench. With Ross Gload having agreed to terms on a two-year deal with the Phillies, the Marlins are searching for a lefty-hitting replacement.
Wednesday's trade sets Florida's 40-man roster at 39, meaning the team can take part in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
"I think we made good progress today," Beinfest said on the club's pending moves. "We feel like we've made progress on multiple topics."
From the Marlins' perspective, the organization will have to wait to reap the benefits of the Lindstrom trade.
Bryan, 19, is a native of the Dominican Republic who spent the season in the Gulf Coast League. In 106 at-bats, the shortstop hit .340 with six doubles, two triples, two home runs and 19 RBIs. He was signed as a non-drafted free agent by Houston in 2007.
In their Minor League system, the Marlins are thin at shortstop.
Bono, 20, was 10-8 with a 3.20 ERA in 143 1/3 innings this past season. The right-hander made 25 starts, and he posted three complete games for low Class A Lexington.
"Both of these guys have upside," Beinfest said.
With Lindstrom gone, and Kiko Calero a free agent, the Marlins have some vacancies in their bullpen. Pinto is also drawing trade interest.
"It's something that we're looking at," Beinfest said of Florida's bullpen depth. "Calero is a free agent, and Matty is gone. We like our arms. We're looking to add as much bullpen depth as possible."
Brian Sanches now becomes a prime candidate as a right-handed setup reliever, while Dan Meyer will return in a late-inning-lefty role.
Tim Wood and Chris Leroux are right-handers with some big league experience who will get a long look to make the Opening Day roster.
"We have young experience," Beinfest said.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.