Through one month as the new Marlins GM, Kim Ng has reiterated that adding arms to the bullpen is a top priority. The same has been said by manager Don Mattingly, who welcomed three new relievers in the last month: Adam Cimber, Paul Campbell, and Zach Pop.
However, I don’t know whether the Marlins are willing to spend big to strengthen their bullpen, especially after they declined Brandon Kintzler’s team option and have thus far had no reported conversations with Brad Boxberger. There should be even more urgency for them to address the ‘pen then there was when the 2020 season ended.
But, anyway, here are three GREAT options for the Fish that could help and won’t break the bank.
1. RHP Yusmeiro Petit
Let’s start with a former Marlin (debuted with the team in 2006). Petit has been one of the most consistent relievers in the game since turning completely into a bullpen arm and especially since 2017. In fact, no one has more relief appearances than him in the last four years: 240, tied with Andrew Chafin, but Petit owns more innings, better ERA, and fewer walks.
Even though the Venezuelan isn’t a strikeout machine, he can accumulate more punchouts than Kintzler, for example. He’s got reliable control—2.1 BB/9 in his 13-year career—usually puts up decent WHIP numbers (1.16 lifetime), and doesn’t allow hard contact at a high rate (87.5 MPH EV, 33.3 Hard Hit% in 2020).
Petit will come at an affordable price. He’s already 36 years old and there’s a lot of competition on the open market, so I don’t think signing him takes as much as his recently expired two-year, $10 million deal. He seems to fit perfectly into the Marlins’ plans for 2021.
2. RHP Oliver Drake
If the Marlins are seeking a swing-and-miss expert, then here’s their guy. Drake might come to Miami at a bargain after a career full of ups and downs, besides a rough 2020. Even though he wasn’t great this year in terms of ERA and control, take a look at the following stats:
Exit Velo XBA XSLG XERA H/9
86.5 MPH .190 .302 3.04 5.7
There are two key factors working in his favor. First, Drake was awesome in 2019. Second, his biggest enemy is the long ball, and I’d think Marlins Park could be a paradise for him. The home of the Fish ranked second in the Nationals League in Park Factor (0.735).
If you ask me, I’d bet on Drake.
3. RHP Pedro Báez
Remember when the Marlins inked Yimi García right after he was granted free agency by the Dodgers? What if they do the same with his former teammate Pedro Báez? He’s effective, he has experience, and can still strike out hitters despite losing some velocity.
Báez avoids hard contact and allows fly balls at an above-average rate, which can be good in Marlins Park. And he has steadily increased his chase percentage since 2017, when it was at 29.0% (this year was at 34.6%). What I like about him is he mixes his pitches very well despite having a simple repertoire. Besides, his lifetime H/9 rate is 6.8.
At least one of these three veterans might be what the Marlins are looking for. I wouldn’t be shocked if they appear on Ng’s “wish list” of relief targets.
Last month, our own Louis Addeo-Weiss looked at several other free agent relievers who could be potential fits.