You weren’t going to get a big name.
After the sudden passing of Jose Fernandez, the Marlins entered the offseason in sudden need of two starting pitchers. One was needed to fill Fernandez’s spot and the other was needed to fill Andrew Cashner’s rotation spot.
There are few attractive names in this winter’s free agent starting pitching class. Rich Hill might be among the best options, and he wasn’t going to be an option for the Marlins. Cashner didn’t have enough success to be re-signed. Jeremy Hellickson, who the Marlins have reportedly liked since the non-waiver trade deadline, accepted a qualifying offer.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reported in his Sunday notes column that the Marlins are “looking to hit the jackpot with a surprise pitcher.” That’s exactly what Monday’s Edinson Volquez signing is.
Volquez is not a big name free agent, but he is one the Marlins have been connected to for the last few weeks. He is a veteran starter who has made at least 30 starts in each of the last five seasons. The Marlins, now without a clear ace, need innings. This is a start.
Volquez won’t blow anyone away with his velocity, and he struggled for the last few months of 2016. But the Marlins are hoping he can emulate the success he had in 2014 and 2015.
For $11 million a season, the Marlins are getting a veteran starter who if nothing else pitches beyond the fifth and sixth inning on consistent basis. Given the market for starting pitching, that’s reasonable.
We did it after the non-waiver trade deadline, but let’s do it again. Let’s take a minute to celebrate the Marlins for adding to their payroll. The payroll won’t increase significantly, but they continue to add. They deserve credit for that.
As long as the Marlins continue to add to their major league roster without subtracting, they deserve credit for that, too. The Marlins like their core. It’s a core that’s proven it can win. However, Miami needs starting pitching. A trade is still plausible, though this deal might make it less of a possibility.
Volquez will likely serve as Miami’s third starter behind Adam Conley and Wei-Yin Chen. The club also has Tom Koehler to work with. Now, if adding another established starter proves to be too daunting of a task, the Marlins have options.
David Phelps, who thrived pitching out of the bullpen last season, is one such option. Justin Nicolino or Jose Urena could compete for the last spot. Still, another move is possible. Even a minor free agent signing could boost the starting rotation.
A big name probably wasn’t an option for the Marlins, and based on the makeup of the free agent pitching class, it didn’t need to be. The Marlins added an experienced starter at what could prove to be a comparatively low price.
There almost certainly isn’t an established starter on the market who will surprise you in 2017. And if there is, let Volquez be that guy. The Marlins made the best of a weak free agent pitching class by signing a starter they’re comfortable with.