Miami Marlins: Starting Pitching Top ‘Offseason Priority’

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Starting pitching has been an issue with the Miami Marlins for much of the 2015 season, a major reason the team has not been a playoff contender this season.

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As anticipated, Jose Fernandez did not make his season debut until July. Unexpectedly, Henderson Alvarez went down after just two starts with a shoulder injury. Alvarez made two more starts the rest of the season before being shutdown with a torn labrum, which required shoulder surgery. His timetable at this time is unknown.

Jarred Cosart has dealt with his own health issues, while both Dan Haren and Mat Latos were shipped off at the deadline, with both being free agents at the end of the season and unlikely to return to Miami in 2015.

With Fernandez and Alvarez being major question marks with their checkered injury histories, the Miami Marlins count enter the 2016 season with Tom Koehler as their most dependable starter.

For this reason, the Marlins are making starting pitching their “top priority” this offseason, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

"Our ace beat writer Clark Spencer and I have both heard that the Marlins will make pitching their offseason priority and plan to add two starting pitchers, according to team sources. But as always, finances will provide challenges."

As Jackson points out, financials will get in the way of the Miami Marlins attempting so sign any big time starts. But it should not be forgotten that the team did pursue James Shields right before the season and made a strong effort to sign the right hander, before he signed with the Padres.

"If Loria becomes inclined to bid for a top starter — and he did pursue James Shields last spring —  then Royals and former Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto (7-7, 2.69 ERA) is one name that interests Miami.Other free agent pitchers expected to get really big contracts: David Price, Jordan Zimmermann, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Leake and Clay Buchholz if the Red Sox don’t pick up a $13 million team option, plus the Dodgers’ Zack Grienke if he opts out of three years and $71 million. (Obviously, most or all of these names are unrealistic within Miami’s budget.)"

Cueto would be an intriguing fit for the Marlins, but he has does have injury concerns of his own. He was dealt to the Kansas City Royals before the trade deadline and has already begun making an impact there.

The Marlins showed strong interest in David Price last July before he was dealt by the Tampa Bay Rays. He’s a big time left-handed starter that the team has been lacking since the Dontrelle Willis days. He would also be an intriguing add for the team.

With the Miami Marlins considering moving the fences in for the 2016 season, adding a big time starter might be the best way to go to make sure the pitching staff does not suffer from the shorter distance on the fences.

We’ll have more about the team’s interest in any free agents, or any other players as the offseason nears. We’ll also go into more detail on each available pitcher at that time.

Follow Marlin Maniac on Twitter @MarlinManiac for all your Miami Marlins news, opinion and analysis!

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