Miami has reportedly made adding starting pitching an offseason priority, but the Marlins should also consider upgrading the back end of their bullpen. The Marlins have "given thought" to pursuing a closer this winter, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald, but want to focus on adding pitching depth.
If the Marlins are able to both add starting pitching and sign or trade for a closer, the organization might be that much better in 2015.
Before last July's non-waiver trade deadline, the Marlins decided to move Steve Cishek. Cishek was drawing a notable amount of interest but was not expected to be moved. In return, the Marlins received Kyle Barraclough, who pitched out of the Marlins' bullpen toward the end of the season. Cishek was getting expensive and the club felt A.J. Ramos was ready to close games. Ramos pitched well, but he might be best suited for the eighth inning.
Ramos, 29, pitched to a 2.30 ERA and 3.01 FIP over 70.1 innings while saving 32 contests. He had command trouble early in his career, but despite a few mid-summer struggles, Ramos was successful as he adjusted to pitching in the ninth inning last season.
When he was not closing games, however, Ramos was just as efficient. With Cishek pitching the ninth inning throughout 2014, Ramos still pitched to a 2.11 ERA and 3.21 FIP. He has proven to be versatile and the Marlins should take advantage of that.
Miami has expressed interest Aroldis Chapman in the past, and the Cuban lefty could be an intriguing candidate again this winter. He pitched to a 1.63 ERA and 1.94 FIP over 66.1 innings while saving 33 games with the Reds. The Marlins do not have a notable amount of left-handed relief depth beyond Mike Dunn, and Ramos could end up serving as the setup man while Chapman closes games. Chapman might be too expensive, but the Marlins will likely at least discuss the possibility of an upgrade.
The Marlins likely will not be open to spending too much on a free agent reliever, but the organization should at least consider closers via free agency or the trade market.
A.J. Ramos has been effective, but have another top back of the bullpen arm will make Miami's relief unit even better heading into 2016.