The Marlins have signed one reliever this offseason in free agency and one through the Rule 5 Draft. Will they sign more arms this winter?
When you have a product everyone likes, the price tag for that item tends to rise on the open market. The Miami Marlins aren’t willing to let many of their young arms go in trade deals this offseason, but that does not mean MLB teams haven’t knocked on the door to see if anyone will answer.
That’s been part of the talk concerning the Marlins during the Winter Meetings this past week in San Diego. The talent-rich pitching on the Major League level and in the minors has some franchises salivating over the idea of fleecing the fledgling ball club to add to their starting rotations.
Right now, the Marlins hold the keys to the kingdom and are not willing to relinquish control of their top prospects.
It stands to reason at some point, Miami will listen to an offer it cannot refuse and make a deal to improve its starting lineup. For now, the front office and coaching staff can enjoy the idea of knowing they are one of the more popular kids in the schoolyard, with a majority of teams wanting to duplicate the minor league success the team is enjoying.
“More than half of MLB teams have checked in on the availability of starting pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith and Pablo Lopez,” Joe Frisaro of MLB.com wrote. “It’s extremely doubtful the Marlins will part with any of the three.”
Three is the magic number. While Alcantara and Smith are penciled in as the two top starters in the rotation, there are some injury concerns for Lopez, who once again missed significant time with an arm injury last season.
The Marlins may look to deal other pitchers who could still bring a return for them in the of prospects or a bat in the lineup.
“But Jose Urena, the club’s Opening Day starter the past two seasons, is definitely available, and there very well could be a market for him before Spring Training begins,” Frisaro explains. “Under-the-radar right-hander Elieser Hernandez has drawn significant trade interest. With five years of club control remaining, Hernandez has become popular with other clubs. But it would take a lot to move a controllable starter.”
Hernandez and Urena present options for the Marlins or any team that acquires them because they can work in the rotation or in relief. Urena came back Sept. 1 after missing most of the season with a herniated disc. He was offered a chance to keep the closer role out of the bullpen but did not have the success the front office hoped for.
If he is retained this season, he could still compete for the same role, or factor into the team’s long-relief role. The same holds true for Hernandez, who figures to be a bullpen arm if he remains in Miami this coming season.
The Marlins added Yimi Garcia on Thursday, which gives the team another veteran to balance a rocky pen that was inconsistent this past season.
“On Miami’s “to do” list, relief help falls right below impact hitters. At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins continued to explore the options on the market,” Frisaro wrote.
“But barring something surfacing more quickly, the bullpen likely will be addressed after the offensive needs are settled. That’s because the front office wants to see how much is left to spend after acquiring another hitter. Garcia helps address the bullpen.”