Veteran free agents not going to help Marlins pen


With arbitration all but settled for the team, the Marlins’ roster should more or less be set. However, the team’s bullpen is still in flux after the departure of Kiko Calero and Brendan Donnelly, the latter signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates. And thus once again begins the yearly griping about the Florida Marlins’ bullpen by fans.

If there’s one thing about having a tiny payroll year in and year out is that it assures that our team will not make ridiculous mistakes like signing Brandon Lyon to $5M a year for three years, for example. With the team’s limited budget, it is often forced to look into trash dump for veteran relievers, and often times this works well for the team. I would prefer if the club decided to just go with some of their younger players in the minors with similar talent, but relief work is often times plagued by the idea that “veteran presence” is necessary. Still, once again this season the Marlins will be digging through the scrap heap for help, and I wonder if the team will find anything better than the marginal guys they have.

The Current Suspects

For ease, I’ll first refer to the guys we do have. Here are their names along with CHONE projected innings pitched and FIP.

NameProj. IPProj. FIP
Leo Nunez54.04.26
Dan Meyer64.04.07
Renyel Pinto60.04.45
Burke Badenhop45.03.92
Brian Sanches57.04.10

This is no All-Star group of relievers. The major players are all clustered around a projected 4 ER/9 innings based on FIP, numbers that aren’t all that impressive as relievers. If we were to try and project a WAR value for these players, based on their expected average LI (i.e. the leverage we expect Fredi Gonzalez to give them), we get these projected values.

NameProj. IPProj. FIPRAProj. LIProj. WAR
Leo Nunez54.04.631.70.1
Dan Meyer64.04.421.20.3
Renyel Pinto60.04.841.40.0
Burke Badenhop45.
Brian Sanches57.04.461.20.2

As mentioned, not a pretty picture. And this doesn’t include the slot that we might have still have to fill.

But what’s the alternative?

It ain’t pretty either. I’ll throw out some free agent relief names still left on the market and you tell me which ones are worth a look.

NameProj. IPProj. FIPRAProj. LIProj. WAR
Kevin Gregg67.04.631.70.1
Mike MacDougal55.04.971.7-0.1
Kiko Calero46.04.3410.2
Seth McClung54.05.100.9-0.2
Tyler Walker47.04.661.20.1
Joe Beimel*
Tim Wood49.04.741.00.0
Cristhian Martinez**49.04.461.00.2

*Beimel is the only lefty listed
**Martinez’ numbers are estimated off of CHONE projections of him as a starter. I knocked off around 0.8 ER/9 from his projected starter FIP on the premise that starters usually lose about 1 ER/9 moving to relief. Innings projection and estimated leverage is the same as Wood’s.

Of course, you might have noticed in that table that two of those guys are not free agents, but rather internal options. The point is not that these internal options are better; I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Wood or Cristhian Martinez were replacement level relievers (though as my soon-to-be new writing colleague on Marlin Maniac will later discuss, Martinez should not be half bad). The point is that among the free agent replacements, especially those like Kevin Gregg or Mike MacDougal who look to make at least $1M a year as “closers” with a capital C,  our internal options are not all that different. Only Joe Beimel appears to be potentially worth chasing, if only because the Marlins only have Renyel Pinto as a left-handed reliever. However, none of these players would be particularly solid additions.

Let’s say the listed bullpen in the prior section was worth 0.8 WAR. An acquisition like Beimel may bump it up to 1 WAR. Any further additions would only improve the pen maybe one or two runs. So are those one or two runs, appropriately leveraged, worth the $1M or so we may have to spend on them? I would say no, and I would hope that you would agree.