The Miami Marlins are making the last round of cuts to the Spring Training roster in preparation for Opening Day on Monday, and the Fish made their first moves to clear up a cluttered bullpen situation. The moves were quite surprising as well; the Marlins cut relievers Arquimedes Caminero and Carter Capps among their final roster cuts. The team also reassigned reliever Chaz Roe to minor league camp, ensuring that each player opens the regular season in Triple-A New Orleans.
The Capps and Caminero demotions are interesting. Capps had a 3.60 ERA but struck out only eight while walking five in his 10 innings of work in Spring Training. But he also was the player the Marlins acquired in the Logan Morrison trade, and his previous season with the Seattle Mariners showed great promise. Remember, he struck out 24.4 percent of batters faced and posted a respectable nine percent walk rate along the way. It was reasonable to expect a strong campaign with some better home run luck and Marlins Park on his side. Then again, given his mediocre spring performance, perhaps the Marlins figured he had something still to learn in the minors, and at age 23, that is not an unreasonable suggestion.
But the Caminero move then looks worse under the same reasoning. He did not struggle in spring, having thrown nine innings and struck out nine batters while walking just one and posting a 2.00 ERA. By no means was Caminero perfect, but in terms of spring numbers, he seemed to have earned a right to work in the big leagues. If the thought was that Caminero had more to learn in the minors, that also seems questionable. He dominated Double-A last season and, at age 26, he is likely as close to a finished product as the Marlins can get.
The demotions paved the way for non-roster invitees Henry Rodriguez and Kevin Slowey to make the bullpen on Opening Day. Slowey was expected to earn a spot as the team's long reliever, but Rodriguez's performance must have impressed the Fish. He struck out 14 batters in nine innings with just three walks, which helped to mitigate concerns about the small-sample 6.00 ERA.
The reasoning given for the team's demotion of the younger relievers in favor of the non-roster veterans was also intriguing.
So why send Caminero down? He has one more option year remaining. The aim of the organization is to retain as many quality players as possible. Caminero was caught in that system, as was Capps, who has two option years left.
This flies in the face of the Marlins' so-called aggressive approach to prospect promotion. According to that model, the Fish would promote anyone whom they believed was ready for the majors, regardless of service time or option concerns. The prevailing thought there was that it was more important for them to get proper Major League exposure for their development. Here, however, it sounds as though Miami is concerned about retaining as many relievers as possible so that they have more options, giving them roster flexibility and allowing the younger ones to serve less service time in the bigs this season. It's a completely different philosophy, and it both makes and does not make sense for relievers. On the one hand, the more relievers you have, the more you can hedge against individual ones failing, as they so often do. On the other hand, coddling relief prospects is typically fruitless because their chances of being highly successful are usually slim, so the service time arguments should be less important for them.
The Marlins also officially added outfielder Reed Johnson to the 40-man roster and informed him that he made the Opening Day roster. This only furthers the likelihood that both Jake Marisnick and Marcell Ozuna will start the year in the minors, with Christian Yelich taking over center field and Brian Bogusevic and Johnson forming a left field platoon. Given that neither Ozuna nor Marisnick looked great last season at the plate in the majors, both could likely use time developing. As a result, this move benefits the Marlins from both a developmental and service time standpoint.