Now that their deal with left fielder Corey Dickerson has been finalized, the Marlins plan to focus on adding to the bullpen, president of baseball operations Michael Hill indicated on a conference call Tuesday (Twitter link via Jordan McPherson of the Miami Herald). Among the names the team is considering, SiriusXM’s Craig Mish reports, are Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler and Hector Rondon.
Miami has already added Dickerson, Jonathan Villar and Jesus Aguilar to a lineup that ranked 29th in the Majors in runs scored, 29th in on-base percentage and 30th in slugging percentage thus far in the offseason. They’ve also signed Francisco Cervelli to back up Jorge Alfaro and made a handful of minor league signings, headlined by Matt Kemp.
The lineup hasn’t exactly been built up into a powerhouse, but there’s little denying that it looks like a more robust collection of bats than the group trotted out in 2019. However, the bullpen has gone largely unaddressed to this point; the Marlins, rather, have subtracted more relievers from the organization than they’ve acquired. Control-challenged relievers like Tayron Guerrero, Tyler Kinley and Kyle Keller have all been jettisoned from the 40-man roster, much as Austin Brice was earlier today when making room for Dickerson.
Miami has added right-hander Yimi Garcia on a big league deal and righty Ryan Cook on a minor league pact, but the organization has otherwise been quiet when it comes to adding to the ’pen. Current options on the roster include right-handers Drew Steckenrider and Ryne Stanek as well as southpaws Jarlin Garcia and Adam Conley. Last year’s Opening Day starter, Jose Urena, lost his rotation spot and was moved to the bullpen late in 2019, and Hill indicated today that Urena will get another shot at claiming a bullpen role in 2020 (Twitter link via Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald)
Obviously, a grouping of Urena, Steckenrider, Stanek, Conley and both Garcias leaves plenty of room for potential augmentation. But the relief market has also thinned out considerably, with Strop, Kintzler and Rondon shifting from middle-tier options at the onset of free agency to some of the most appealing names yet to sign. This patient approach is often necessary for the Marlins or teams in similar rebuilding situations, as some free agents are hesitant to sign with a non-contending club early in the winter (barring an overpay). But as contending clubs spend their money and fill holes on the roster, the allure of high-leverage innings and a guaranteed salary with a rebuilding clubs only increases.
The Marlins did well to wait out the market and sign Sergio Romo to a $2.5MM contract last winter — a move that ultimately netted them first base prospect Lewin Diaz at the trade deadline. Whether it’s Strop, Kintzler, Rondon or another veteran arm, the Miami organization will be hoping for a similarly beneficial result in the coming weeks as they try to add to their stock of relievers on what’ll surely be a short-term arrangement.