Agent: Ricky Nolasco and Marlins “about 20 percent” apart in contract extension talks

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Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins have been trying to work out a long-term contract extension for months and agent Matt Sosnick said yesterday that the two sides have agreed to an acceptable number of years but are “about 20 percent” apart on the salaries.

That may not seem like much of a gap, but it probably represents at least $4 million and perhaps as much as $7 million. In other words, there’s likely plenty of negotiating still to be done.

Sosnick also represents Marlins ace Josh Johnson, who after some similarly tough negotiations eventually signed a four-year, $39 million deal with the Marlins in January.

Nolasco is unlikely to get that much because he’s not as good as Johnson and is already under team control through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player, but Joe Frisaro of MLB.com expects a deal of some kind to get worked out before spring training.

Giants making Brandon Belt available

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Giants have made first baseman Brandon Belt available in a trade and says that several teams have expressed interest in him.

Which is kind of weird, really.

Belt turns 31 early next season. He hit .253/.342/.414 with 14 homers over 112 games last year due to a knee injury and time lost to an appendectomy. He has a history of concussions and has averaged only 115 games over the last five seasons. Oh, and makes $48 million over the next three years.

Yes, he could be a very useful player if healthy, but taking on that kind of money, even a part of that money, when many very affordable first base/DH options are out there on the market makes little sense to me. Matt Adams. Justin Bour. Lucas Duda. As good as Belt? No, I don’t think so. But way cheaper and requiring less of a commitment.

But hey, rumors are rumors. Let a thousand flowers bloom.