July 31, 2004
By Scott Miller
SportsLine.com Senior Writer
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Moving to fill the growing void in their rotation, the Florida Marlins acquired right-hander Ismael Valdez from the San Diego Padres on Saturday in exchange for a pitching prospect from the Marlins' Class A affiliate in Greensboro, N.C.

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The Marlins were looking for a fifth starter even before they weakened their rotation by dealing Brad Penny to Los Angeles on Saturday. Valdez is 9-6 with a 5.53 ERA for the Padres this season.

Meanwhile, the Marlins continued discussions with Colorado regarding outfielder Larry Walker as Saturday's 4 p.m. ET non-waivers trade deadline drew near. The Walker deal is a complicated one financially, with the Colorado outfielder owed roughly $17 million through the end of 2005.

If they can work out the monetary aspects of the trade, the Marlins are confident that they can induce Walker to waive his no-trade clause. Among other reasons, he has a home in West Palm Beach, Fla.

As for the Padres, with Valdez, their fifth starter now gone, sources said they are discussing other pitching options with Cincinnati, among other clubs. The Padres last winter were interested in Cory Lidle before they signed David Wells, which then led Lidle to sign with the Reds.

It is believed that Cincinnati would want Padres outfielder Xavier Nady in a deal for Lidle.

If the Padres don't get Lidle or another pitcher in trade, it is likely that either veteran left-hander Sterling Hitch****, who currently is on the disabled list, or prospect Justin Germano, now pitching at Triple-A Portland, would replace Valdez in the rotation.