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Miami Marlins 'expect open competition' for closer job

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A.J. Ramos is not necessarily the Marlins' closer heading into 2016.

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Although A.J. Ramos ended the 2015 campaign as the Marlins' closer, the organization is "expecting an open competition for the closer job," according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

Why this makes sense

Ramos was thought to be the favorite despite some summer struggles, but the competition seemed to be expected given the names the Marlins have been linked to this off-season.

Before he was acquired by the Yankees, Aroldis Chapman was reportedly on Miami's radar. That was not the first time the Marlins have tried to land Chapman and he is not the only closer the Marlins have considered. Jackson adds the club was fond of Fernando Rodney, who signed with the Padres earlier this week.

If the Marlins did not move Steve Cishek before last July's non-waiver trade deadline, the closing situation would not even be discussed. However, Cishek was dealt to St. Louis, which left the Marlins with Ramos and Capps in the back end of the bullpen.

Ramos did struggle to close games for a bit, but he still had an impressive season, pitching to a 2.30 ERA over 70.1 innings while saving 32 contests.

Capps, on the contrary, only tossed 31.0 innings last season as a result of injuries, most notably a right-elbow strain.

The Marlins could be holding the competition to encourage Ramos while giving Capps a reason to bounce back quickly.

Regardless of who wins the competition, the Marlins will have a solid back end of the bullpen as long as Capps and Ramos remain healthy. But it didn't seem there would be a competition despite Capps' high velocity and command.

Why this does not make sense

Even though the Marlins have a pair of viable closing candidates, adding a veteran reliever could make their bullpen even more dominant.

While Capps is known for his odd delivery and high velocity, he spent most of the 2015 campaign on the disabled list. There is a chance Capps thrives throughout spring training and wins the job, but there is no guarantee he remains healthy.

How often Capps pitches could be something to monitor in 2016. At this point, an innings limit has not been discussed. But if Capps is named the closer and spends more time on the disabled list, Ramos will step in while the bullpen loses a top arm.

Ramos pitched well last season, but he will have to win the competition to keep his job. In an ideal world, a third arm is added to the mix.