The Marlins’ preferred bullpen targets after missing out on both Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman are righties Brad Ziegler and Joe Blanton, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Miami reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with Junichi Tazawa yesterday but is still hopeful of adding one more reliever to its bullpen, it seems.
[Related: Miami Marlins Depth Chart]
Blanton and Ziegler are arguably the top two relievers left on the market now that upper-echelon names like Chapman, Jansen and Mark Melancon have signed. Ziegler, 37, has recorded a sensational 2.05 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 68.1 percent ground-ball rate over the past two seasons while pitching in hitter-friendly environments (Arizona and Boston). Though he averages just 84 mph on his fastball, Ziegler is a ground-ball machine that has a penchant for inducing weak contact. He’s said to be weighing multiple two-year offers right now, as teams are apparently reluctant to put three-year deals on the table due to his age. With an average of 70 appearances per season dating back to 2009, though, Ziegler’s durability has been impressive.
As for Blanton, the 36-year-old looked to be done with baseball in 2014 after a rough stretch with the Angels, but he’s reinvented himself as a reliever over the past two seasons, pitching to a 2.65 ERA with 9.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 165 innings between the Royals, Pirates and Dodgers. Despite his age and his struggles toward the end of his tenure as a starting pitcher, multi-year deal seems likely for Blanton based on that impressive run.
Miami currently has a solid on-paper bullpen featuring A.J. Ramos, Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps, Tazawa, Dustin McGowan and lefty Hunter Cervenka. Adding either Ziegler or Blanton would further deepen that unit and provide support to a considerably shakier rotation. Deepening the bullpen has been a long-stated goal for the Marlins, who reportedly made a significant offer to Kenley Jansen before he inked his new deal with the Dodgers. FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that Miami also made Aroldis Chapman an offer that was between $80-86MM and may have been willing to go higher, but their offer didn’t include a no-trade clause and was heavily backloaded (Twitter links).