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.
Any chance Fister or Lee could be a fit for the Cubs
Both are great fits, and they wouldn’t have to trade any prospects either, buy low high reward type pitchers. But I have either one of those guys with the pirates
One of Fister, Lee, Latos or Masterson seems destined for a one year deal with the Pirates
All great fits. My question is, if you’re a pitcher looking for a 1 year deal, why would you want to play for anyone BUT the Pirates?!
Hopefully edwin jackson pitches for somebody in the central division and beats the cubs 4 times in one year while they pay him to play for the other team
That would be quite a feat for a Clayton Kershaw let alone Edwin Jackson
Fister is the one we need
Fister lost major velocity on his already underwhelming fastball last year. Buyer beware until he shows his fastball is back.
The fact that he was very good with it underwhelming bodes well for a bounceback.
Are you really saying what he did last year was “very good?” I will agree that his previous years were, but that was when he had an average fastball. Without it, you get last year, when he was moved to the bullpen.
Don’t think that Lee will come cheap considering all the teams that might want to take a chance on him.
It’ll be a big league deal, but no more than 3-4 million. Teams wont be willing to risk a significant amount of money on such a significant injury risk.
There will probably be a significant amount of money, but it’ll be mostly incentive-based.
I could see a 4-6 mil base with incentives to push it close to ten for Lee. Considering he’s stated he’s looking for a one year deal with a contender, I’d love to see him in a Pirates uni. Bucs have a penchant for getting undervalued but proven pitchers back to their personal top form. Lee at 10 mil (not all guaranteed) for one year at his 2011-2014 levels would be quite a steal to anchor a rotation with Cole and Liriano
I don’t think he will pitch for less than $4-6 base up to $15M in incentives. I could be wrong, but I don’t think he is coming as cheap as $10 on an incentive contract.
I don’t disagree with that but given how many other options there are still out there I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes that type of deal. He’s obviously looking to bank on himself putting up solid numbers on a one year deal to set himself up for a decent, final multi-year deal next year in a weak free agent market
Lee won’t sign for 3-4 million. He’s been reportedly asking for 3 yrs/$15 million plus a ton of incentives…….making the deal worth over $30 million if he succeeds. I wouldn’t do that as a GM, but I might give him 1/10 mil with an option to add 2 years to the contract for $25 million…..
Chapman in the rotation? Now that is an interesting possibility. It’s not common but not unheard of to switch from dominant reliever to starter. John Smoltz switched twice without any real probems. I don’t care about the stats really, all I know is that I’d much rather watch Chapman pitch for 200 innings per season than for 70 innings per season. Randy Johnson would have been an unhittable closer too, but he was a lot more fun to see as a starter.
While I agree in theory, Wade Davis is a perfect example that demonstrates this is a bad generalization. I would have liked to see Chapman as a starter from the beginning, but I’d keep him as a closer at this point.
It depends on your team’s needs really. With the Reds, Chapman was the only good reliever so there was no chance of him switching. The Yankees already have 2 very solid relievers, so they could afford to try during the spring if they wanted to. Put it this way, would you rather have Chapman 1-6, random reliever 7, Betances 8, Miller 9 or random #5 starter 1-6, Betances 7, Miller 8, Chapman 9? I’ll take the former in that scenario.
Chapman was a starter in the minors and when be made his big league debut there was talk about the reds keeping him in the rotation. Wouldn’t be that much of a stretch for him to be a starter but I’d hesitate to make that change now considering he’s spent the last four(ish) years relying on his fastball, changeup and occasionally a slider. Three pitch pitchers don’t last long as starters in the bigs even if you’re throwing high 90’s with your heater
He would struggle as a starter, as he has before when he tried it. He can’t pace himself, or mix up his pitches. His game is one inning, max effort, 100 mph with one breaking pitch. The same as Betances and Miller who were both awful as starters. Familia too. All cut from the same cloth.
Agreed. Chapman’s 100 mph fastball, which is arguably his best weapon/pitch, won’t be a thing if he starts. He might be able to throw a couple in the first inning or two, but in terms of arm fatigue, expecting him to do it over multiple innings is unrealistic. Verlander was able to do it, but I think it came back to bite him with all his injuries the past few years. And even if Chapman is able to consistently throw 100 mph fastballs over a start, eventually batters will get a feel for it if given a second or third at bat.
Yeah, like Joba Chamberlain!
If cliff lee wants to rebuild his value, I say the Pirates is the perfect fit
He’s not going to be rebuilding value. That implies he will be searching for a multi year deal next year. That would work for a guy like Latos, but Lee is closing out his career. He will want to sign with a winner more than likely. Although Pittsburgh still fits the bill there too.
The pirates are a perfect fit for both lee and latos, but I could see either of them with the cubs as well.
He’s too old to “rebuild value” anywhere. It’s not like he needs a correction in his delivery. He will have to accept incentives, but he will want his value now.
Lee will be 38 at the end of august, not unreasonable to get a two, maybe three year deal next year assuming he’s healthy and productive the whole year. Vogelsong who’s starting this season at age 38 and is nowhere in Lee’s stratosphere got a deal that could be 5 mil if he hits all his incentives
The team that offers a one year make good contract won’t be getting him. He will accept incentives but will want his value now. He has already proven what he can do when healthy. Incentives for innings will protect the team if he’s not.
Edwin Jackson is nothing like Cliff Lee and Fister. Lee and Fister should be on the Marlin’s radar, but it’s very sad that they, or any team, is looking at Edwin Jackson. Jackson is like the luckiest person alive. He has over 70M in career earnings and has yet to put up a good season. The dude has played 13 years and his best season ever came in a brief relief stint in 2015. His career numbers out of the rotation are got-awful. He’s a 1 time All Star (barely made it) in 13 seasons. He got so bad that he lost 18 games in a season, followed by ERA numbers that were off the charts bad. Any team, either contending or not, that thinks Jackson is worthy of another try in the rotation, is not someone who should be in affiliated baseball.
I get that there’s some recency bias at play here, but you’re vastly overstating Jackson’s struggles. He was rushed to the Majors too soon and struggled early in his career, but he posted a 4.06 ERA in 996 innings from 2008-12. His contract with the Cubs was an enormous bust, but averaging 199 innings of 4.06 ERA ball per season for five years is far, far from awful.
I can understand that, Steve. But I don’t quite agree, because you can point out some positives about even the worst pitchers. ( still remember broadcaster Mike Krukow always saying how great Wayne Franklin’s slider was, despite the obvious bad numbers, yes you can always pick out a few good)
I personally am not biased, as a pure Giants fan from San Francisco, my team has never had anything to do with Jackson.
You’re right that over a 5 year span Jackson was an acceptable starting pitcher. But as you mention, that ended in 2012.
Maybe a minor league deal with invite to spring training. But as a relief pitcher would be acceptable.
Jackson could be very useful to a club if he signs a minor league, spring training invite deal. Have several months to figure out if he fits your organization as back-end starter/AAA rotation depth or out of the bullpen with minimal risk
He also has thrown a no hitter. Jackson was a huge bust but the contract he got in the pitching market he was a free agent in wasn’t so unheard of. Looking back it was obviously the wrong move but at the time of the Cubs had gotten a pitcher that threw 200 innings per year and had an ERA in the high 3s he would have been more than worth it. That’s the kind of seasons he had produced the last 2 years before signing.
He had a good year for the Tigers. Think they traded him for a young kid with bad mechanics. Scherzer, I believe.
Wow, I get it’s unconfirmed, but if the Marlins really wanted to take a top 3 closer and put him in the rotation… That’s crazy. But considering the things they’ve done in the last 5 years, I guess it’s not unexpected that Loria would try to ruin a good thing.
I vaguely remember when he started with the Reds there was debate as to whether they would work him as a starter or a reliever. I also remember the Reds were criticized briefly for not using him as a starter. There have been a couple of players who have successfully bounced between starter and reliever so it’s not the craziest idea I’ve ever heard.
That said, in terms of risk and reward I’d tend to believe there’s more of a chance of ruining his arm by trying to turn him into a starter.
Why would the Marlins want a dominant closer? They’d only use him for 2, maybe 3 innings a week and pay him #3 starter money for 50ish innings the whole season. I don’t see why the Marlins have any interest in him but it makes slightly more sense if they were going to use him as a starter
It’s because using Chapman as a starter ruins his value. No one knows what his production as a starter would be. He would have to decrease velocity and change his mechanics in order to stretch himself long enough to go 5-6 Innings at the least. Not only do you worry about his production, but that can lead to injuries if his arm isn’t use to pitching that much in a season.
Sure the Marlins need a starter, but get one that actually fills the need. Acquiring a top closer, transitioning him into a SP, and hoping for it to pan out, isn’t smart baseball. Even if he did do less innings, what’s the point? Save the prospects and go acquire a proven starter with less risk.
Plus I highly doubt, a year before FA, Chapman would want to suddenly be a SP. Neither would his agent, and probably not the MLBPA. That’s why I think it’s an ignorant move.
I’d love to see the Angels add Cliff Lee as high upside starting pitching depth
I would like that idea, but I think Eppler is happy with the pitching depth the angels have.
If the Marlins want a pitcher I think Doug fister would be the best fit, pitching in a big ball park in a division he is familiar with makes sense to me, as for Cliff I see Pittsburgh, they have a way of just making it work with whatever pitcher they sign, plus he stays relatively close to where he’s called home for the past 4-5 years and he will be on a contender, as for Jackson…… Minor league deal and no more then that…he hasn’t been the worst pitcher ever and from 2008-2012 he was a very good back end maybe number 3 starter but has been borderline horrendous since and shouldn’t be the pitcher a team goes for to bolster the rotation.
I’m excited to see what cliff Lee does.
Lee maybe the most intriguing free agent in a very long time when weighing potential vs. cost to aquire. Unfortunately we’re only a couple years away from seeing half-a-BILLION contracts being discussed as real life certainty
I doubt Lee will go to the NL Central, unless it is with the Cubs. He wants as much of a “sure bet” making the playoffs as possible…
With that being said, the NL Central is viewed as one of the toughest divisions in baseball, so he might not feel as strongly about joining the Pirates, due to the in-division competition…And he may view the Cubs as more of a “sure bet.”
Regardless, his options are fairly limited, as far as joining a serious contender for a WS ring. Most serious contenders have already filled their slots…Maybe he could join the Tigers, if they make another move for their OF…But truthfully I’m not too sure how many options he has available that can be considered a sure bet to get to the playoffs, except for the Cubs.
The Pirates have reached the post season 3 years running. They have a pitcher friendly park and one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. If I was a pitcher trying to make a comeback like Lee I would want to be a Pirate. This is coming from a Cubs fan that would love to see them take a chance on Lee. Also your logic is flawed. If you are saying the competition in the NL central is too stiff to take a chance on the Pirates than why take a chance on the Cubs. They play the same competition and have a young core than could be primed for a sophomore slump. No team is a lock to make the playoffs. Also if I had to pick the team with the best chance at the post season in the NL I would pick Arizona. They won 79 games with the 3rd worst pitching staff in baseball. If Lee was even close to his former self than that rotation of Grienke, Miller, Corbin and Lee would be dominate when paired with that offense.
Braves be good for Lee. Rebuilding and he can be the veteran presence they need to tutor their young pitchers. Buy low high reward type deal with incentives. Fister be a great fit if they were too contend. Feel their a few years away as of now.
What surer bet is there than joining one of the three best teams (by record) in all of baseball last year regardless that they’re in the same division? Are the Nats, Mets, Giants, Dodgers, Diamondbacks ALL that much more improved that the second place team in their respective division can beat out the third best team in all of baseball from last year?
As of now Cubs are nothing more than paper champions. Arrieta had a once in a generation second half that essentially can’t be replicated, despite having quality long-man options the back end of their bullpen is average at best. They have a lot of hope about defensive positions but little proven experience. No real CF, Schwarber isn’t a catcher or outfielder and won’t play over Rizzo at first, is Baez or Alcantara backup SS and can either be a quality full time starter if Russell gets hurt? Do they have ANY everyday outfielder besides Heyward? Lots of young, controllable talent but also lots of issues, particularly defensively, with most if not all top notch prospects on the team already.
The Marlins have money to spend don’t they? They barely have anything on their salary, so why don’t they sign Cespedes and trade Ozuna for pitching? I bet even if they sign Cespedes they can afford a guy like Fister for around 10mln. I can see them competing, just they need more pitching and more health.
Because Cespedes was awful in Center.
I know he makes bad plays, he often misjudges the direction of the ball and goes in the wrong direction, but he isn’t a terrible defender, stats still show he’s one of the better defenders in the game. And he would be a massive uprrade in the offence plus it will get more fans to go to the ballgame, it will help the Marlins get money from the fans
If they could trade Ozuna to get a pitcher, I can see that happening