The Miami Marlins made it clear in their off-season press conference that the team will not be pursuing the big ticket items in free-agency. That being said, that doesn’t mean that the Fish can’t find some good value over on the clearance racks. While Zack Grienke or David Price may be out of the realm of possibility for the Marlins, here are five viable pitching options for the Fish to pursue.
- Yovanni Gallardo: Texas Rangers: Gallardo had a renewing season in Texas after a change of scenery from Milwaukee. A one-time ace, Gallardo recaptured his old form and was a catalyst in the Rangers end of season comeback and playoff push. In 184.1 innings, Gallardo posted a career low 3.42 ERA over 33 starts and remains a viable option for the 2016 Miami rotation.
- J.A. Happ: Pittsburgh Pirates: The curious case of J.A. Happ just continues. Middling somewhere between a middle of the rotation guy and a bullpen pitcher, Happ has put together several solid seasons in Toronto but struggled with injuries throughout 2014. Happ was on the move to Pittsburgh where he worked with new Marlins pitching expert Jim Benedict after the trading deadline. This formula, and the fact that he could come for pennies on the dollar makes Happ an attractive and affordable option for a middle of the rotation pitcher.
- Wei Yin Chen: Baltimore Orioles: As the old saying goes, you get what you pay for. This goes for Orioles pitcher Wei Yin Chen. He won’t be cheap, but he has a solid skill set and is only 30 years old significantly young than many of his counterparts. Chen could slide into the Marlins rotation as a third or fourth starter. Chen’s best statistical season very well could have been 2015. He threw 191 innings and posted a career best 3.34 ERA. Will the Marlins open up the check book for this quality starter?
- Hisashi Iwakuma: Seattle Mariners: See Wei Yin Chen, this younger ace will come at a high price but has the potential to be a high reward. The streaky Iwakuma has showed flashes of brilliance, such as, his 2015 no-hitter of the Baltimore Orioles. He’s also, however, had some rough starts. The Marlins should atleast explore that opportunity of chasing down Iwakuma, but only for the right price.
- Kyle Lohse: Milwaukee Brewers: Kyle Lohse is an older statesman at 37 years-old. He’s had his ups, he’s had his downs, but ultimately has put together some respectable seasons for a long-tenured veteran. Lohse would be a low-risk, high reward pickup if the Marlins are moved in his direction. He could pay off and become a solid rotational arm, but he will be fairly cheap, a gamble worth taking.
The Marlins free agency strategy will ultimately come down to what they do on the trade market. If Marcell Ozuna is pawned off for a young, controllable starter, the Marlins demand for a starting pitcher will be significantly lower. Meanwhile, if the rumors of the Marlins trading Jose Fernandez come to fruition, the Marlins demand for a quality starter will skyrocket.
Only time will tell what the Marlins front office plans are for the offseason. But, if the Fish decide to go in the direction of signing a free agent starting pitcher, there’s plenty of good ones available.