The Miami Marlins are busy making big moves and looking to make some more soon. In the meantime, The Fish are also moving on from disappointing players. I'm talking about The Fish declining team options on starting pitcher Johnny Cueto and relief pitcher Matt Barnes. Were these the right moves? Why were they made?
The Miami Marlins declined team options on pitchers Matt Barnes and Johnny Cueto.
Matt Barnes was an off-season trade acquisition that just didn't work out for the Miami Marlins in 2023. Barnes pitched in only 24 games and 21.1 innings in 2023. He had a lowly 5.48 ERA/4.15 FIP, wit 8.4 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9. He was worth -0.1 WAR. Walks have been an issue for Barnes his entire career, so unfortunately this wasn't a surprise. That said, he did pitch well for periods in the past, so I certainly expected much better from him. His $9 million team option was declined for $2.25 million.
There's always a chance that Matt Barnes could've been better in 2024, but as I previously mentioned the walks have always been a concern. He also has a career 4.13 ERA, so it wasn't necessarily expected for him to be that much better going forward. $9 million was certainly too much to pay him for one season, so it was right to let him go.
The other pitcher that the Miami Marlins parted ways is of course starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. Cueto was a disaster in 2023, producing a 6.02 ERA/7.02 FIP, with 6.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 13 games (10 starts) and 52.1 innings pitched. It's hard to say anything positive about this. He was worth a lowly -0.2 WAR, so yeah good riddance for sure.
The Miami Marlins declined a $10.5 million option on him for next season, choosing instead a $2.5 million buyout. Obviously giving the 37 year old Johnny Cueto $10.5 million for next season wasn't worth it. A much cheaper starting pitcher can be signed for depth, who will likely end up doing better than Cueto anyway. It's frustrating to have to pay $4.75 million for them not to play for the team, but whatever it takes.