After losing out on James Shields, the Miami Marlins continue to explore avenues on how to improve their ballclub. The team is already set in the outfield, infield, and in the bullpen. But the starting rotation remains a question mark.
Unfortunately for the Marlins, there is not much on the free agent market in terms of starting pitching that would be an improvement over what the ballclub already has.
For that reason, the team is exploring the reliever market, to “try” and improve whats aleady a strength for the team. The team has been rumored to be in the Francisco Rodriguez sweepstakes, but as I explained the other day, it makes no sense for the Marlins to pursue the former Brewers closer.
Another name the Marlins are reportedly interested in is reliever Phil Coke, but primarily on a minor league deal. But there seems to be a market for Coke, with some interest strong enough to warrant a major league deal, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca
According to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro, the Marlins would prefer Phil Coke on a minor league deal, with an invite to spring camp. He’d have to earn his spot on the Marlins 25-man roster to begin the season, but should have a pretty decent shot, if the Marlins want to carry two lefties in their bullpen.
Both Hand and McKirahan are at the risk of being lost if they don’t make the Marlins 25-man roster out of spring training, as Hand is out of options and McKirahan would have to be offered back to the Cubs if he didn’t make it. This would give either of them an advantage over Coke coming out of spring.
Last season, Phil Coke posted a 3.88 ERA and a 3.98 FIP in 58 innings of work. This is a year removed from posting a 5.40 ERA and a 4.14 FIP in 38 1/3 innings in 2013.
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For the right price, Coke would be a phenomenal addition to the Marlins bullpen that is lacking a second traditional left-handed pitching option. Steamer projections love his chances of bouncing back in 2015, predicting a 3.44 ERA and a 3.46 FIP in 45 innings of work.
While the National League East isn’t quite full of talent like recent seasons, a left hander could come in handy for lefty bats like Bryce Harper and Chase Utley, who are expected to have strong seasons in 2015.