Because they’re not counting on him to preserve leads in the ninth inning, the Marlins aren’t looking at unpredictable reliever Carlos Marmol as a high-risk gamble, a powder keg awaiting to erupt.
“If we were signing him to be our closer, but we’re not,” said Michael Hill, Marlins president of baseball operations. “We’re bringing him in to be a solid part of our bullpen. To add this caliber of player was a no-brainer for us.”
The Marlins signed Marmol to a one-year contract for $1.25 million and intend to use him in late-inning situations as someone to get the ball to closer Steve Cishek.
Even though Marmol pitched his way out of Chicago, with one ninth-inning meltdown after another with the Cubs, the Marlins consider themselves fortunate in landing the 31-year-old pitcher.
“I’m very surprised we were able to sign him,” Hill said.
Hill said the Marlins are obviously aware of Marmol’s failures with the Cubs, which mostly stemmed from his inability to throw strikes and walking batters. But Hill also said Marlins scouts liked the improvement they saw in Marmol’s delivery during the second half of last season, after he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also when he pitched over the winter in the Dominican Republic.
“From what we saw, closing in the Dominican winter league, it was the guy we saw in Chicago effectiveness wise, the good guy,” Hill said, referring to Marmol earlier in his career with the Cubs. “For anybody who had seen him pitch in [Los Angeles], his delivery was cleaned up, he was working more at the plate, there were more strikes — everything was better.”
Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez are locks for the starting rotation, and Jacob Turner has the inside edge on winning a starting job, as well.
But the fifth spot in the rotation could come down to as many as a half-dozen contenders vying to win the job during spring training. Hill mentioned Brad Hand, Brian Flynn, Tom Koehler, Andrew Heaney, Adam Conley, Justin Nicolino and Anthony DeSclafani as contenders for the job.
Hill said Hand “looked like he belonged in the big leagues” based on the way he threw at the end of last season, while Flynn was likely fatigued from a long minor-league season and didn’t pitch up to his ability when the Marlins promoted him in September.
“I don’t think we got to see truly what he is,” Hill said. “He’ll definitely be a part of the competition.”