Yesterday, the Marlins reportedly acquired reliever Brandon Kintzler through free agency.
The acquisition of Brandon Kintzler, who signed for $3.25 million with a $4 million option for 2021, brings into sharper focus the Marlins Opening Day roster. The question I’ve been going over in my head is who the Marlins plan to DFA to fit Kintzler on the 40-man roster.
The culprit will undoubtedly be a relief pitcher, of which the Marlins currently have far in excess of the eight they’ll presumably begin the 2020 campaign with. They also currently have 22 pitchers on the 40-man roster, and another 10 coming to camp on non-roster invitations. The follow-on question to who’s about to get moved is, of course, which eight will begin the season in the bullpen?
First we need to eliminate the probable starting rotation. That’s most likely to be a starting four consisting of Sandy Alcantara, Caleb Smith, Pablo Lopez, and Jordan Yamamoto and one more, yet to be named.
The number five starter will come from a pool consisting of Robert Dugger, Jose Urena, Elieser Hernandez, and Nick Neidert. Sixto Sanchez, Jeff Brigham, Edward Cabrera, Jorge Guzman, Jordan Holloway, Humberto Mejia, Daniel Castano, Braxton Garrett, and Trevor Rogers are all also technically in contention for the spot.
Of the 15 relievers left in the mix, plus Kintzler (and Urena), just under half of them will make the final cut. Please don’t check my math, or this all comes tumbling down.
The consensus best bullpen arm last year was Jarlin Garcia, with a bullpen-high and a team-eighth best 1.3 bWAR.
Kintzler is also one of the most likely candidates of the bunch, with his age-34 season last year counting as the best of his career, at 1.7 bWAR and 1.018 WHIP with the Chicago Cubs.
Ryne Stanek has been mostly solid through his now-three-season career, despite a rocky start to his Marlins tenure through the last two months of 2019.
Drew Steckenrider missed most of the campaign with elbow inflammation, but stands to rebound this year. Urena has possibly the most utility of any pitcher on the team, and Stephen Tarpley‘s 1.18 career minor league WHIP should get an extended look at the major league level.
Jose Quijada‘s sharply upward minor league trajectory finally hit the major league level in 2019, but not without an unprecedented spike in his walk rate. Owner of a solid 3.05 mark through 280 1/3 minor league innings, he walked 26 in 29 2/3 frames for the Marlins.
Aaron Northcraft left organized baseball after the 2016 season, then returned with the Seattle Mariners organization last season. He put up a 1.87 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, and 35 K’s in 33 2/3 innings.
Alex Vesia spent the year striking out 100 in 66 2/3 innings across the Marlins top three minor league levels. He walked two and struck out 49 in his most recent 35 innings.
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Adam Conley‘s major league career went from good to bad to great to terrible. I don’t know how many more chances the Marlins are going to give him, but I think he’s probably the most likely candidate for the upcoming DFA.
Ryan Cook, Tommy Eveld, Dylan Lee, Pat Venditte, and Josh A. Smith all have varying degrees of possibility at making the cut, but none of them particularly large degrees. Venditte’s utility as a switch pitcher gives him the edge from amongst this bunch, but the others have all enjoyed various measures of success in organized baseball.