Rotation an area of need
Club will try to bolster pitching in offseason
ORLANDO — At some point this winter, between trade talks and front-office hirings and probably a handful of minor moves, the Marlins will address one of the neediest areas of their organization: starting pitching.
The Marlins finished 2017 with only two hurlers who started more than 20 games: Dan Straily (33 starts, the only one to go wire to wire) and Jose Urena (28 starts, taking every turn after joining the rotation in early May).
Beyond that pair, Miami has plenty of question marks after posting a bottom-five rotation ERA in baseball.
“The offseason is just beginning, so we haven’t been able to fully see what the market is going to be and where we have opportunity to improve as it pertains to our starting pitching,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
Behind Straily and Urena is a collection of arms that pitched partial major league seasons and, come spring training, can be comfortably lumped together as those who will compete for rotation spots: Adam Conley, Odrisamer Despaigne, Justin Nicolino, Chris O’Grady and Dillon Peters.
Jarlin Garcia, a starter for most of his minor league life but a reliever for the Marlins last year, might also join that group, Hill said.
“They’re on our roster, so they’ll be given opportunities to compete,” Hill said. “But it’s open competition.”
The quantity and quality of potential external additions is not clear. While you can safely count the Marlins out on high-priced options such as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, Hill also wouldn’t commit to being in the market for a veteran stabilizer — someone in the mold of Edinson Volquez last offseason, a signee who can be penciled in for 30 or so starts and 180 or so innings.
(Granted, Volquez ended up getting Tommy John surgery in July and will miss at least most of 2018. WeiYin Chen, similarly, has had chronic health issues the past two years and can’t be relied on to be consistently present.)
“We know what our current inventory is. We know we need to get better,” Hill said. “Some of the trades may dictate what that looks like, what shape or form that looks like.”
The bigger-picture goal — and, really, the Marlins’ aim this offseason — with starting pitching has little to do with 2018 specifically. As he has done while speaking about the Marlins generally, Hill stressed the importance of building depth.
“The timing on building that depth, I wish I could tell you it’s going to take X amount of time, but you just don’t know,” Hill said. “You can make smaller trades, waiver claims of pieces that fit for you, who can be productive. I think all of that is part of how we build our depth.
“This is not an overnight process.” (2013-15), in addition to other scouting and minorleague coaching gigs since retiring as a player following the 1990 season. From 2011-12, he was the Mets’ minor league field coordinator.
Scott will work under vice president of player development and scouting
who — like several of the Marlins’ other recent hires — he crossed paths with in the past. While Scott was running Toronto’s farm system, Denbo had a cameo with the organization as the major league hitting coach in 2008.
This particular role did not exist in the Marlins’ hierarchy in recent years.
was vice president of player development, overseeing the farm system, while
was field coordinator.
Gary Denbo, Marc DelPiano Cathcart Gary
Scott’s major league career consisted of three games for the 1989 A’s, who won the World Series. Primarily a shortstop, Scott played 10 seasons in the minors from 1981-90, eight with the Yankees and two with the A’s.
Jose Urena was one of the team’s most reliable starters last season (28 starts after joining the rotation in May).