With the baseball offseason in full "lull" mode, the Miami Marlins have dug deep into the recesses of the minor league free agent pool, signing pitchers Kevin Slowey and Mitch Talbot, as well as second basemen Matt Downs. The signings were first reported via Twitter by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
All three players have a good amount of experience at the big league level and the Marlins are undoubtedly hoping that they can find some value while not spending a whole lot of money, despite the insistence from the MLBPA to do so (which our own Michael Jong discussed yesterday).
Of the three signings, Slowey brings the most experience to the table, with 90 major league starts under his belt. A second-round selection by Minnesota in 2005, he spent his entire career in the Twins organization until being traded twice following the 2011 season. After being dealt by the Rockies in January of 2012, Slowey spent last season pitching for the AAA Columbus Clippers in the Indians' system.
When healthy, the Slowey has been a solid back-end starter, with a career FIP of 4.24 and a BB/9 rate of just 1.42. But unfortunately for Slowey, "healthy" has rarely been an adjective used to describe him.
Even with all the injuries, Slowey's track record when he's been on the mound certainly justifies taking a flyer on him, and with the uncertainty of the Marlins' rotation entering spring training, there's a chance he could break into the rotation if he has a good spring. Believe it or not, this could be an underrated move that pays dividends for the Marlins this season.
Righty Mitch Talbot is another injury-prone right-hander who most recently pitched for the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he posted a 14-3 record and 3.97 ERA in 138 IP. Prior to last season, Talbot had spent his major league career with Houston, Tampa Bay and Cleveland, but injury and poor performance during his stint with the Indians led him to take his talents to the KBO. Talbot is another "take-a-flyer' type free agent, albeit with quite a few more question marks than a guy with proven major league success like Slowey. The fact that Talbot didn't dominate in his time in the KBO could be a bad sign, but if Talbot can stay healthy, there's a chance he could help the Marlins' pen or at the very least provide some pitching depth in the minor leagues.
Last but certainly not least, Matt Downs, a second basemen who spent the last three seasons with the Astros organization. He mostly served as a utility player during his time in Houston, and in his best season in 2011 was worth 1.3 WAR after hitting .276/.347/.518. He had a "Down" year (see what I did there?) last season for the 'Stros, but again, there's a chance he could provide a bat off the bench for Mike Redmond if he has himself a good spring. At this point, that's all the Marlins' organization is looking for.