Ro­ta­tion an area of need

Club will try to bol­ster pitch­ing in off­sea­son

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - SPORTS - By Tim Healey Staff writer

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.

AP/FILE

Jose Urena was one of the team’s most re­li­able starters last sea­son (28 starts after join­ing the ro­ta­tion in May).

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