Heading into the offseason, the Miami Marlins made it a priority to add a veteran presence in their bullpen, and the front office appeared to be confident resigning free agent reliever Chad Qualls was a realistic goal. Miami eventually lost Qualls to the Houston Astros, the team he was drafted by.
At the end of October, The Miami Herald noted Qualls was the only one of five free agents Miami was looking to try and resign.
With the exception of Qualls, it's doubtful the Marlins will attempt to re-sign any of them. And Qualls could very well be out of their price range (a number of teams expressed interest in the veteran reliever before the July 31 trade deadine, but the Marlins -- thinking he would help them avoid 100 losses -- held on to him. So much for that).
At the Winter Meetings, the Marlins acquired Carter Capps, a power arm that is expected to appear in the later innings for Miami. The Marlins aggressively pursued Capps, though he isn't the veteran Miami is looking for. The Marlins remain in the market for an experienced reliever after losing Qualls and Ryan Webb to free agency.
"I would say we will continue to monitor the market, and if there's an ability for us to upgrade -- our bullpen is fairly young, so if there's an opportunity to maybe add a veteran presence to our 'pen, we will look to do so," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said in an interview with MLB.com.
By signing infielder Casey McGehee on Wednesday to play third base, the Marlins all but completed their search for offensive assistance. The squad also added infielders Garrett Jones and Rafael Furcal before trading Justin Ruggiano to the Cubs for outfielder Brian Bogusevic.
Losing Qualls is big for Miami, because of the cheap production he provided the Marlins with last season. In 66 games, he posted a 2.61 earned run average.
MLB.com pointed out Miami's 2013 bullpen was among the top 15 in all of baseball.
Miami's relievers posted a 3.42 ERA, which ranked as the 11th best in the Majors. As a team, the Marlins made great strides after opening with a 14-41 record. From June 1 until the end of the season, the bullpen also improved. In that span, the bullpen's ERA was 3.02, which ranked fifth in the Majors.
Steve Cishek, who converted 34 of 36 save chances while posting a 2.33 ERA, is expected to continue to close games for Miami. Capps and A.J. Ramos could pitch the seventh and eighth innings to setup Cishek in the ninth.
In past offseasons, the Marlins consistently sought to add a proven left-handed relief option. The organization feels Dan Jennings and Mike Dunn, who both worked out of the bullpen last season, can serve in that capacity.
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