The month of February is just around the corner. Usually, this brings with itself Spring Training, the first taste of MLB baseball for the year. However, management, players, and authorities seem to be at crossroads as regards the normal start of the 2021 MLB season. Nevertheless, as the calendar turns to February, the Marlins’ needs are exactly the same they were back in December. Unsurprisingly, the Miami Marlins bullpen is still the top priority for the team’s front office.
Coming off their first playoff appearance in 17 seasons, Miami faces a serious challenge to replicate their sensational display throughout a full campaign. Relief pitching, despite the success of the team, was in the center of attention for all the bad reasons. The unit posted a bullpen ERA of 5.50, the fifth-worst in Major League Baseball.
Now, during a painfully slow 2021 offseason, it remains in the same position for the South Florida-based ballclub. The Marlins will have to put their bullpen on the top of their task-list, as stated by new general manager Kim Ng.
Moreover, they will have to accomplish that despite diminishing financial capabilities. In late-October, Miami declined a club option for Brandon Kintzler, their closer and best reliever, worth as much as $4 million. That moved seemed to be indicative of prices of what caliber the Marlins will be willing to outmatch. In short, the club has to find efficiency in almost extremely-cheap additions.
Fortunately, there are more than enough pitchers on the market that could provide durability and reliability at a low price. The marlins did sign righty-reliever Anthony Bass, who could be tapped to fill Kintzlers shoes.
The Marlins have now passed on other significant relievers from last year’s team, such as Brad Boxberger or Nick Vincent. That gives them room for improvement and efficient spending of their limited resources.
Accordingly, here are three relievers that the team could acquire to boost the Miami Marlins bullpen come Opening Day. Note: the field does not include any re-signings or the two suitors mentioned in our December article on the Marlins’ needs.
Miami Marlins Bullpen: Yusmeiro Petit
Yusmeiro Petit has been tremendously impressive during his past three years with the Oakland Athletics. However, he now enters the free-agent market at a projected price perfectly comfortable for the Marlins.
According to Spotrac, Petit is estimated to make an average of $3.6 million per year in his next contract. That’s less than Kintzler’s option and just slightly above the $3.25 million the former Chicago Cub received for his lone campaign in Miami. More importantly, it might be even more reasonable a move than Kintzler’s. The 36-year-old Petit has been much more solid in his last nine seasons than Kintzler, or most MLB relievers for that matter.
Yusmeiro Petit’s path is very interesting. The Marlins, still branded as Florida, were the team he made his debut for in 2006. After returning to the league in 2012, Petit has registered an ERA north of 4.00 just once (2016). Furthermore, his three-true-outcomes figures jump out as even more consistent. Petit has allowed more than two walks per nine innings just twice since 2013.
In addition, his recent numbers have been on the upward trend, remaining amongst the strongest in his career. Yusmeiro Petit stuck out almost eight batters per nine in his last full season. Also, he conceded just 1.2 HR/9, a number that hasn’t crossed the 1.5-mark in three seasons.
These figures are hard to come by even when it comes to high-profile pitchers. For the price of $3.6 million, this is a no-brainer. While strikeouts and big-fly numbers could still be better, Petit’s figures have been satisfying on a yearly basis. This has established him as a sensationally consistent reliever. He is certainly undervalued given his reliability, stability, and absence of negative extreme values in the three-true-outcomes categories.
Inquiring for Yusmeiro Petit provides the club a new top member of the Miami Marlins bullpen. Petit could not only be better than Kintzler but he also comes cheaper than Kintzler would have been in 2021.
Miami Marlins Bullpen: Tony Watson
Tony Watson had a very solid start to his career during his first six seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Moreover, he was equally satisfying with the Giants for the past three years. Being one of the team’s most dominant relievers, Watson is now a crucial low-cost asset on this year’s free-agent market.
Throughout his three-season tenure in San Francisco, Watson averaged eight strikeouts per nine innings, accompanied by about two bases on balls and a home run. Furthermore, he wasn’t much less consistent than Petit. Tony Watson never conceded more than 1.5 HR/9 in a season with SF. His control on the mound is in the same boat – figures ranged from 1.5 to 2.0. The only place where volatility was observed was the strikeouts, dropping from 9.8 to 6.8 in 2019.
The 2020 season is not trustworthy enough to be counted on the same level as other campaigns. Yet, despite the risk of that strikeout difference, Watson still holds a career average of 8.0 K/9. Even if that doesn’t prove potential stability, the other two components have been beyond liability-free.
San Francisco paid Tony Watson between $3 million and $3.5 million over the course of his three years with the Giants. Furthermore, he has received more than $4 million in a year just once, $5.6 million in 2017. But there is more good news for the Miami Marlins bullpen. Despite his continued reliability, Tony Watson’s value is likely to take a further hit considering the lack of activity on this year’s market and the clubs’ financial situation. Low demand means a lower price, which the Miami Marlins bullpen is probably desperately looking for in a reliever.
Miami Marlins Bullpen: Jose Alvarez
Jose Alvarez made just eight appearances for Philadelphia in MLB’s latest shortened season. That has shifted the attention off the 31-year-old. However, he can quietly become one of the best low-profile findings for his potential suitor. The Marlins, one of the majors’ bottom-spenders, perfectly fit that profile.
Alvarez, also a former Angels and Tigers reliever, excelled in the strikeout and homerun departments during a steady stretch between 2015 and 2019. In each of these seasons, Jose Alvarez registered at least around or more than 50 innings, meaning that these numbers resemble his true value pretty realistically.
In three of those five seasons, Alvarez posted at least eight strikeouts per nine. Moreover, in the other two campaigns, the figures were very close (7.9 and 7.8, respectively). Also, during his five years in Anaheim, he allowed an average of 0.7 HR/9, crossing the 1.0 mark just once (2017). His strikeout stability and success against the long-ball are impressive for a player with his perception and market price.
The only real risk comes from his limited woes as regards ball control. In two seasons during his top career stretch, Jose Alvarez produced over three walks per nine, establishing this as a problem for the Venezuela native. Interestingly enough, those were the campaigns, in which he had the most innings pitched. This could prove to be an issue that might keep his game back. Nevertheless, it isn’t a problem that outweighs his other accomplishments and the cheap price. For a team desperate to add upgrades to a struggling Miami Marlins bullpen, the positives outweigh the negatives.
Spotrac doesn’t put a projected price tag on Jose Alvarez but the most he’s ever been paid was $2.9 million last year. The Marlins could be reluctant to spend even the decreased costs for Petit or Watson (as compared to Kintzler) or decide to prioritize another position. Should that be the case, Alvarez is amongst their best options at an even lower price.
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