Marlins, Rodriguez remain far apart

Updated: November 22, 2003, 6:16 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MIAMI -- The world champion Marlins are trying to keep their team intact. But it will take some work to keep Ivan Rodriguez in the fold.

The Marlins say they are making progress in negotiations with free-agent third baseman Mike Lowell and second baseman Luis Castillo, but are not close to re-signing their All-Star catcher, general manager Larry Beinfest told reporters during a conference call on Friday.

Rodriguez is reportedly looking for a five-year, $50 million deal -- which isn't close to the maximum two-year, $15 million offer that sources tell the Miami Herald the Marlins are prepared to give.

''What Pudge's expectations and goals are on a multiyear contract do not fit with our allocation or our payroll operating range right now,'' Beinfest said. "Things can change on both ends. But, as of right now, that's where it sits.''

''We're waiting for them to make an offer,'' agent Scott Boras told the Herald. "They're the employer. The only thing I've said to Larry is that Pudge had a very good year and we expect a multiyear offer."

Boras told the newspaper he didn't expect to talk with the Marlins again until after Thanksgiving.

Beinfest said Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has given him a ''payroll range'' with which to build next season's roster. Keeping the entire roster intact would cost close to $90 million -- far more than the $50 million the Marlins started last season with.

"That word [dismantling] will probably not be associated with what we're doing given the payroll operating range we're working with right now," Beinfest said. "I think you're going to see large parts of this team return that are going to be important to our competitiveness."

One way to trim payroll may be to trade first baseman Derrek Lee, 28, who the Orioles have expressed interest in.

Rodriguez, Castillo and Lowell all played major roles in Florida's run to the title. However, while Rodriguez starred in the postseason, Castillo struggled and Lowell had a limited role due to the fact that he was coming back from an injury.