The Marlins are on the hunt for a veteran addition to their largely inexperienced bullpen, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami president of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Frisaro plainly that his club is “exploring” the addition of an experienced reliever to help work with younger arms like Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley and Tayron Guerrero at the back of the Marlins’ bullpen.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that Sergio Romo is among the names the Marlins are considering, which makes for the fourth team tied to Romo in the past two days. (Toronto, Minnesota and Texas were all tied to Romo recently, though the latter two are said to prefer a minor league deal for the veteran righty.) MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that Romo is a “strong possibility” for Miami, noting that while the team has talked to other names, Romo appears to be the team’s focus at present.
Frisaro, meanwhile, lists right-handers Nick Vincent and Adam Warren as possibilities for the Fish, noting that new Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. is quite familiar with Vincent from the pair’s time together with the Mariners.
There’s a fair bit of uncertainty surrounding the complexion of Miami’s relief corps at present, with few locks to make the big league roster beyond the aforementioned trio of Steckenrider, Conley and Guerrero. Steckenrider was the team’s best reliever in 2018, and while Guerrero had his share of struggles, he boasts a triple-digit fastball and, more importantly, is out of minor league options (as is Conley).
Righty Austin Brice, recently claimed off waivers, is another out-of-options arm who could quite likely factor into the fold. Hill spoke with Frisaro at length about how Brice would give the team a ground-ball-oriented reliever it lacked last season following the trade of Brad Ziegler. However, while Hill termed Brice a “severe sinkerball pitcher,” it’s worth noting that Brice’s 51.2 percent ground-ball rate, while above the league average, is still a ways from elite territory.
In hearing Hill talk about his desire to have a reliever who can get crucial grounders when needed, it’s worth noting that none of Romo, Vincent or Warren is much of a ground-ball pitcher. Warren was earlier in his career but saw his grounder rate dip below 40 percent last season, while Romo and Vincent have been fly-ball arms throughout their careers. That’s not to say that the Marlins couldn’t add one of that bunch, of course; however, if that’s a goal for the Miami front office, then perhaps the addition of someone such as Romo won’t be the last new arm brought into the mix. There are a few other free-agent relievers still on the market, and Spring Training will present further opportunities for the Marlins to add arms of that nature as they become available via waivers or as veteran relievers opt out of minor league deals with other organizations throughout March.