Miami Marlins in a pitching crisis
By Mark Laming
With Henderson Alvarez non-tendered, and an extreme lack of minor league pitching depth, the Marlins must sign at least one starting pitcher this offseason. With an appalling lack of depth at pitching, the Marlins still have a few viable options on the table, and they should consider at least a few of them.
The Marlins current pitching options are comprised of: Jose Fernandez, Tom Koehler, David Phelps, Adam Conley, Brad Hand, Justin Nicolino, Jared Cosart and Jose Urena.
In other words, there isn’t a whole lot of depth or value on either end. Koehler is a serviceable pitcher who’s put together several solid seasons. David Phelps and Brad Hand are both extremely low end fifth starters. Conley, Phelps, Nicolino and Urena all still remain as unknown prospects.
Jared Cosart remains the biggest mystery on the Marlins staff. Having showed promise during the 2014 season, Cosart brutally regressed in 2015 and found himself sent back to AAA playing in New Orleans.
All culminating in an absolute crisis for the Marlins front office. Do you put faith in Conley, Phelps, and the rest of the young pitchers to develop into stars and carry your staff? Do you sign an expensive ace or trade for a young stud pitcher who’s already developed into a solid major league starter?
The rest of the roster doesn’t yield many other prospects who are major league ready. Recently acquired lefty Tim Berry, Austin Brice, Kendry Flores, Jarlin Garica, Nefi Ogando, Andre Rienzo, and Nick Wittergren are all anchored to the current 40-man roster. None of those players are linked as potential starters or as prospects who will make a major league impact soon.
Maybe one of that group of pitchers will emerge as a surprise star out of Spring Training and crack the major league roster. This situation seems very unlikely, as even Flores the leader of the group is not pegged as back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher.
Jarlin Garcia doesn’t look like he will crack the 25-man roster, neither will Wittergreno, Berry, Brice, or Ogando. Andre Reinzo is an interesting prospect but he has yet to make the most of his extremely limited major league chances.
So with Christmas and the winter meetings already over, the Marlins find themselves in a hole. No minor league depth, no major league depth, and not many viable starters left on the free agent market. The Fish are in absolute box with nowhere to turn and no means to acquire more pitching.
A free agent like Alfredo Simon doesn’t seem like a horrible idea at this point. While Simon is definitely nothing special, he’s a serviceable starter who had a dominant 2014 only to get sidetracked in 2015. Maybe a move down to South Florida could turn things around.
Another solid option is Doug Fister. After several outstanding yet quiet years, Fister is one of the most under-appreciated pitchers in the majors and he’s still floating around on the market. While Fister will be significantly more expensive than Simon, he would make a bigger impact and would be the perfect second starter to ace Jose Fernandez.
No matter which direction they decide to go in, whether it’s prospects or free agents, there are very few situations the Marlins stick with David Phelps or Brad Hand. Both pitchers had disastrous 2015 seasons and aren’t on track for anything spectacular in 2015. But, this is the Marlins so you never know what is going to happen.
The Marlins are in a hole, and if they don’t dig themselves out soon, they’re sunk in 2016.