Steve Cishek was told he was no longer the Marlins' closer on Tuesday night, according to Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald, and as a result the Marlins are exploring other options. A.J. Ramos, Bryan Morris, and Mike Dunn are all internal candidates to become the club's closer, but Corey Seidman of CSN Philadelphia believes Jonathan Papelbon makes perfect sense for the Marlins.
Papelbon, 34, has been on the trading block for several seasons after expressing interest in playing for a contending team. When he signed with Philadelphia, Papelbon was confident he would be used often to close games started by Cliff Lee, Roy Haladay, and Cole Hamels. However, the Phillies altered their roster and are rebuilding. As a result, Philadelphia could look to deal Papelbon before the trade deadline.
Although they have reportedly tried to deal him in the past, the Phillies have had difficulty trading Papelbon because of his extensive contract. He is due $13 million this season and has a $13 million option for 2016 if he can finish 37 more games. The Marlins may not want to take on such a large contract. But Rafael Soriano, who the club has expressed a notable amount of interest in, likely will not come much cheaper.
The Marlins have overcome a 3-11 start and would be closer to five hundred if not for a few blown saves. Seidman points out that Papelbon still throws harder than Cishek and has better secondary pitches and command. However, Cishek has proven he can pitch well after a few rough outings. Seidman even established a deal that could work for both sides:
Two mid-tier Marlins prospects who could make sense as return pieces in a Papelbon trade are outfielder Austin Dean and catcher Arturo Rodriguez. The Phillies' farm system is glaringly weak in corner outfield power and catching depth.
Dean is a 21-year-old corner outfielder who last year hit .308/.371/.444 with 33 extra-base hits in 99 games at Single A Greensboro. He's hit well to start the 2015 season at High A Jupiter.
Rodriguez is a 23-year-old catcher whom the Marlins signed out of the Mexican League. He's hit .324 with a .840 OPS at Single A in his first 28 games in the U.S.
The Marlins have lost several key pieces of their minor league system after upgrading their major league roster and may not be prepared to deal prospects for a closer. For that reason, signing Soriano might make the most sense. Miami has also been linked to Francisco Rodriguez in the past, and given the Brewers are also struggling, he too might be affordable.
Miami will likely explore all available options before making a move. Jonathan Papelbon is an experienced arm, but if Cishek begins to pitch well, the Marlins will suddenly have an expensive and crowded bullpen situation.