The Miami Marlins have made their interest in bolstering the bullpen obvious, but after the signing of Jeff Baker earlier this week, it did not seem like Miami had a lot more room left on the roster or in the payroll. But the Fish apparently made their latest move towards a bullpen reclamation project, as they have signed Carlos Marmol to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes.com (Spanish link).
Marmol finally struck the last nerve with the Chicago Cubs last season, when he posted a horrific 5.86 ERA and 6.16 FIP thanks to a large home run rate. Marmol was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Matt Guerrier in a move that involved significant money changing hands in terms of international slot bonuses, but he did passably for the Dodgers once he was called up from the minors. Marmol threw a 2.53 ERA and 3.94 FIP in 21 1/3 innings for the Dodgers.
As always, Marmol's issue has been walks, and last year he handed out free passes at a 17.8 percent rate. Usually, he makes up for it with massive strikeout rates, but last season's 26.6 percent mark was the lowest of any full season for the former right-handed closer. This is concerning for a Marlins team that would like stability in the bullpen, because Marmol has never been a measure of stability, even when he was considered a top closer.
For $1.25 million, Marmol is guaranteed a spot on the Marlins' bullpen, but it is questionable where that spot will be. The team has no fully trusted eighth-inning man, but it was expected that A.J. Ramos would move to that role as the right-handed half of a lefty-righty duo with Mike Dunn. Now it seems Marmol may get that opportunity pitching behind closer Steve Cishek as the righty half of the eighth. This spells a temporary end to either Arquimedes Caminero's or Steven Ames's time as a back-of-the-pen reliever as well, as one of those two will start in Triple-A thanks to Marmol's early-season presence.
If the signing falters, however, expect the team's decent bullpen depth to return to the big leagues. Marmol has been a fringe reliever for three years now despite holding the role of Cubs closer, so it is not as if his sharp decline last season came completely out of nowhere. But for $1.25 million, the Marlins are not losing much if he fails. If he begins to succeed a la Chad Qualls, the team could even use the "proven closer" tag to get a return via trade in midseason. At this point, there is not a lot of upside, but the downside is marginal as well.
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