The Marlins still hope to add a starting pitcher to their rotation and have internally discussed some potential bargain options such as Doug Fister, Cliff Lee and Edwin Jackson, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Jackson adds a wrinkle to the Marlins’ reported attempt at acquiring Aroldis Chapman (before his trade to the Yankees), noting that the team had considered inserting Chapman into its rotation.
All three of the free agents listed by Jackson are probably in line for one-year deals. As a four-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner, the 37-year-old Lee comes with the highest ceiling but also quite a bit of risk after missing the 2015 season with a torn flexor tendon. He’s reportedly seeking a one-year deal with a winning team as he attempts to revive his career.
Fister was one of the game’s more underrated pitchers from 2011-14, when he posted a 3.11 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in 750 2/3 innings with the Mariners, Tigers and Nationals. However, 2015 was a much different tale, as Fister’s average fastball velocity dipped from about 89 mph to 86 mph. The diminished heater undoubtedly contributed to what was the worst full season of Fister’s career; the 31-year-old (32 in February) logged a 4.60 ERA across 15 starts before losing his rotation spot and experiencing better results in the bullpen.
As for Jackson, he’s coming off a disappointing tenure with the Cubs. Signed to a four-year, $52MM contract prior to the 2013 season, Jackson posted a 5.58 ERA in 316 innings out of the Cubs’ rotation in his first two seasons in Chicago. In 2015, he quietly rebounded in the bullpen, pitching to a 3.07 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 in 54 2/3 innings between the Cubs and Braves. It’s been quiet on the Jackson front this offseason, but he’ll presumably receive interest both as a reliever and as a starter following his solid bullpen work between Chicago and Atlanta. If he does prefer to reestablish himself as a starter — and at 32, there’s plenty of time for that — Miami seemingly wouldn’t be a bad place to take a shot. Marlins Park has been a pitcher-friendly environment since opening in 2012, although the Marlins are altering the dimensions this offseason, which could remove some of the pitchers’ advantage. Jackson would be a low-cost addition for any club that signed him, as he’s still owed $13MM from the Cubs this season, so he’d only cost a club the league minimum and a roster spot.