In a bid to address their glaring bullpen needs, the Marlins on Sunday acquired right-handed reliever Bryan Morris from Pittsburgh in exchange for the 39th overall pick in the upcoming draft.
“We’re two games out of first place,” Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said before the team dropped three back later in the day. “We believe this is a good team. We wanted to do our part to help [ Mike Redmond] and the rest of the guys to win ballgames. This was our part to help solidify an area we felt we were a little light.”
Morris, 27, is 4-0 with a 3.80 ERA in 21 relief appearances this season for the Pirates. Overall in the majors, he is 9-7 with a 3.46 ERA in 81 appearances.
The pick the Marlins gave up is a competitive-balance pick, which are the only kind that can be used as trade collateral. They still have three of the top 43 picks in Thursday’s draft, including the second overall pick, and six of the top 107 selections.
Morris, a former first-round pick of the Dodgers, is expected to join the Marlins on Monday. He might not be the last addition to a bullpen that has been one of the team’s Achilles’ heels.
“I don’t think we’re finished in trying to improve our club,” Hill said. “We’re still trying to make as many improvements as we think we can to help this team. This was the first piece in bringing Morris aboard.”
Hill characterized Morris as a “power arm” even though his relatively low strikeout rate (5.3 K’s per 9 innings) suggests otherwise.
“I don’t know if you’d categorize him as a strikeout pitcher, although he has plus stuff,” Hill said. “It’s just a good major-league arm that will go into our ’pen. However he gets them out, we hope he keeps getting them out.”
To make room for Morris, the Marlins optioned right-handed reliever Arquimedes Caminero after Sunday’s game. The Marlins made room for Morris on their 40-man roster by transferring Jose Fernandez to the 60-day disabled list.
SALTALAMACCHIA ON DL
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was placed on the seven-day concussion list, one day after sustaining a jarring blow to his mask on a B.J. Upton foul ball. The Marlins called up catcher J.T. Realmuto from Double A Jacksonville to fill his roster spot.
“Normally when it hits, and it hits pretty good, the mask turns,” Saltalamacchia said. “But that one kind of hit square.”
Saltalamacchia said he began feeling dizzy, notified team trainer Sean Cunningham after the game and was examined Saturday night by a doctor.
Saltalamacchia described his concussion as “real mild” and didn’t think it would force him to remain out longer than the seven days.
“There’s no real timetable on these,” he said. “In my head, I’m hoping it’s fairly quick. I want to make sure it’s 100 percent. I’m not helping the team going out there with a concussion, and definitely not helping myelf.”
Saltalamaccha has been mired in a monthlong slump in which he hit just .177 in May with no home runs.
Realmuto was hitting .301 with five home runs and 31 RBI at Jacksonville. The 23-year-old was a third-round pick in 2010 and is very familiar with the Marlins’ top pitching prospects, whom he has been catching in the minors.
Realmuto has caught for Fernandez, Andrew Heaney, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani, among others.
“Those guys are all studs,” Realmuto said. “You’ve got a lot of young horsepower in this organization.”
Redmond said he hopes to give Realmuto some playing time, along with regular backup Jeff Mathis.
“I want to get J.T. in there and give him a chance to play,” Redmond said. “Obviously, he’s one of our top prospect catchers, and we want to get him in the big leagues and see what he can do.”
COMING UPMonday Randy Wolf Alex Cobb Tuesday Henderson Alvarez Chris Archer