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Marlins finalizing minor league deal Dustin McGowan

McGowan was the team’s most-used reliever over the past two seasons.

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Marlins led all MLB teams in bullpen usage during the opening week of the 2018 season, and they’re reportedly close to adding a reinforcement to the tired relief corps. Right-hander Dustin McGowan is nearing a deal to return to Miami, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

You remember D-Mac. Nobody on the Fish except Kyle Barraclough racked up more pitching appearances (118 G) from 2016-2017. During that stretch, he posted a 3.86 ERA and 4.52 FIP with 127 strikeouts in 144 23 innings pitched.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

McGowan signed a minor league deal with the Rays in February, but requested his release later in spring training when they informed him that he wouldn’t crack the Opening Day roster. His new deal is also of the minor league variety, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro confirmed. The 36-year-old will report to extended spring training initially, then see game action with the Triple-A New Orleans Baby Cakes.

Looking at the Marlins active roster, they’re currently fielding a 13-man pitching staff. Creating space for McGowan later this season would require either an injury, demotion or trade. His most valuable skill is the stamina to work multiple innings out of the ‘pen, much like Odrisamer Despaigne and Jacob Turner.

Adding to the roster jam, Rule 5 draft selection Elieser Hernandez (dental surgery) begins a rehab assignment on Friday night in Jupiter. He will need to be activated within 30 days if there are no physical setbacks.

Further down the road, McGowan should have an opportunity to seize a large role with the Marlins after the July non-waiver trade deadline. Late-inning relievers like Brad Ziegler and Barraclough may draw interest from contending teams at that point.