The Marlins may seek help for their bullpen woes before the front office looks to add a veteran arm to the starting rotation.
While the decision on Chen was one to be expected this offseason, it does not come without a price. The Marlins are still on the hook for his salary of $22 million for the coming season. Miami still has plenty of money it can spend in free agency, with only $33.25 million on the books for this coming year. How the Marlins decide to use that open roster spot, either with a minor league prospect or a veteran reliever is not known yet.
The Marlins, unlike other teams, will face tough decisions about whether or not to tender an offer to potential free agents after the 2020 season. This could play right into how the team will grab a big-name player or two from the free-agent list, as next offseason should be the one where the front office dips into the savings account to lure players to sunny South Florida.
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As we all know, the focus of the Marlins strategy this offseason is to improve the everyday lineup first, then focus on finding more arms for the pitching staff.
"“The priorities are offense, first and foremost. I’m expecting the Marlins to sign or acquire at least two established position players,” Joe Frisaro explains in his most recent “In Box” feature on MLB.com.“After that, the focus is on the bullpen. Whatever dollars are left after that could possibly go towards signing a veteran starter. I don’t see having a veteran starter to help lead a young staff as a priority.”"
I differ in opinion with Frisaro as I see young arms with no one there to provide balance in the rotation. Both Sandy Alcantara and Caleb Smith must make a giant step forward this season to ease some of my concerns about where the rotation is headed. There are a few names Frisaro mentions as the rotation fills out.
"“Smith, Alcantara, [Pablo] López and [Jordan] Yamamoto have experience, and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. handles the staff well,” he writes. “There’s also Elieser Hernandez and Robert Dugger, who have pitched in the big leagues. So there are plenty of candidates to start. If there is a clear upgrade that makes sense, then perhaps they will pursue it. But it isn’t the top priority.”"
The question becomes whether the Marlins are willing to spend money in free agency or acquire a veteran or two to balance a bullpen that was at times atrocious last season? The issue of finding a closer is still prominent and the team must decide if it wants to explore bringing Sergio Romo back to fill that role. Also, are there arms in the minors that could potentially find their way onto the MLB roster to work in long and short relief?
The Marlins plan to make more decisions on free agency during Hot Stove season and look into potential trade partners in the coming weeks. Even if the team does not make a major move to improve the bullpen, the front office figures to still be busy fielding calls about potential offers for its young staff from other organizations.