The Marlins signed free agent left-handed pitcher Jeff Locke to a one year, $3 million deal today, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Locke is coming off a tough 2016 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, in which he made 19 starts and 11 relief appearances, racking up 127 1⁄3 innings. The 29-year-old lefty posted an underwhelming 5.44 ERA and 1.53 WHIP with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of only 1.66. Pretty much every number Locke put up in 2016 was the worst of his five-year career.
However, Locke was better earlier in his career. In his first full season with the Pirates in 2013, he pitched to a 3.52 ERA in 30 starts.
Locke was a highly-regarded left-handed pitcher when he made his major league debut with the Pirates in 2012, and he lived up to the hype until the 2015 season when his numbers began to decline. His strikeouts have been gradually declining every year, but his walks have also started to go down, which is an intriguing sign.
The Locke signing is a good move for the Marlins because of his upside and his contract. His 2016 season may warrant just a three million dollar contract, but his track record before that should have brought much more money. Miami got a low-risk, high-reward player in Locke that could come in and insert himself into the starting rotation if he performs well in Spring Training.
If Locke doesn’t work out as a starter, he still has some value as a left-hander out of the bullpen and his one-year contract makes it easy to send him on his way if he does not work out for the Marlins.