The Marlins announced Sunday that they have signed left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler to a one-year deal. Two full months after MLB free agency officially got underway, he’s their first major league signing of the offseason.
On Friday, Craig Mish was first to report that an agreement was in place.
Fellow lefty Stephen Tarpley was designated for assignment in a corresponding move. The Marlins are hopeful that he can pass through waivers unclaimed (though I would bet against that happening).
As recently as 2019, Detwiler was being utilized as a starting pitcher with the White Sox. The largest single-season workload of his career was 164 1⁄3 innings with the 2012 Nationals. But the assumption is that he will be a reliever for the Fish next season.
The St. Louis, Missouri native is a soft-tosser by modern standards—his average fastball velocity has not topped 92 miles per hour since 2016. A key to Detwiler’s productive 2020 campaign was reintroducing a slider into his repertoire. He used it to record eight of his 15 regular season strikeouts. Opponents had a .208 batting average on at-bats ending with that breaking ball.
The White Sox designated Detwiler for assignment on Sept. 24 and he elected free agency a few days later, so he missed their (brief) postseason run.
Drafted and developed by the Nationals once upon a time, Detwiler has a fairly good track record pitching at Marlins Park (2.93 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 10 K in 15.1 IP). However, his most recent appearance there came in 2014. The outfield fences have been brought in twice since then.
Detwiler’s contract comes with a $850,000 guarantee, per Mish, and $100,000 in possible incentives. That’s cheaper than I had originally estimated considering that several other experienced, slighty-above-replacement-level relievers have topped $1 million this winter. He turns 35 years old in March.
Detwiler joins Richard Bleier as the only veteran left-handers on the Marlins 40-man roster. All of the other southpaws—Daniel Castano, Braxton Garrett, Trevor Rogers and Alex Vesia—have less than two full years of MLB service.
Even with Detwiler officially on the squad, expect the Marlins to continue shopping. Craig Mish tweeted in December that they’re in the market for a hard-throwing closer—Detwiler obviously doesn’t match that description.
Also, Jon Heyman mentioned this on Friday:
Marlins are looking for a corner outfielder, preferably a right fielder and lefthanded hitter— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 2, 2021
Free agents possibilities include Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson, Nick Markakis, Jay Bruce, Nomar Mazara and Matt Joyce.