The money is well-deserved. Cishek boasts a 2.65 career-ERA along with a 2.59 FIP and 9.9 K/9. The 28 year-old saved 39 games for the Marlins in 2014 and struck out 84 batters over 65.1 innings.
Cishek’s effectiveness aside, that’s an awful lot of money to tie down to a relief pitcher. And for a budget-restricted club like the Marlins, that money could probably be put to better use elsewhere.
Which is why Steve Cishek’s time in Miami could be soon coming to a close (pun intended.) He has been beloved by fans during his five-year career, but the team simply can’t afford to have one-tenth of its salary locked up in a closer right now. The Marlins are targeting a $60-65 million team payroll for 2015. Miami’s payroll range will likely remain static until a new TV deal is hopefully reached in 2017, which would give them more budget flexibility.
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But as for Cishek, he sadly might end up a victim of dollars and cents. The Marlins have lots of question marks in their bullpen and don’t have a ton of reliever depth in the minors right now. Anthony DeSclafani and Andrew Heaney, both of whom saw action out of the bullpen last year, were traded this offseason. The Marlins also lost a lefty when they traded Dan Jennings for Andre Rienzo, a move that right now looks like a bullpen downgrade.
Cishek will start the 2015 season as the Marlins closer once again. Depending on the team’s position in the standings, Cishek could potentially be dealt at the July 31 trade deadline. There is always a market for relievers at the deadline, and there are always teams out there willing to take on salary for a shot at the postseason. The Marlins are expected to contend this year, however. If they do, there’s no chance they would part with their closer in the midst of a playoff push.
It also means Cishek could get moved when arbitration rolls around next year. Or maybe before then. Cishek wanted a multi-year contract, but the Marlins preferred to work on a year-by-year basis. He has two more years of arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2017 season, and he’s not going to get any cheaper during that time.
Steve Cishek will be closing games for the Marlins in 2015, that’s a certainty. But this time next year don’t be surprised to see the sidewinder traded for some affordable assets. “Closer” is an outdated role anyway. Cishek has been great for the Marlins, but he is also expendable for the betterment of the team moving forward.