COMMENTARY – Now that’s how you make a splash in free agency.
The Miami Marlins have never been shy in telling the fans and the media they are fully aware of the team’s need for starting pitching and help in the bullpen that would hopefully get the organization to the playoffs – a first since 2003. The organization is also hoping 2017 will be the year the team posts and above .500 record for the first time since 2009.
Everything starts and ends on the mound for these Marlins. The news of Edinson Volquez signing a two-year, $22 million deal is a giant step toward solving issues that plagued manager Don Mattingly all season long. While the 33-year-old is expected to help ease the pain of the loss of Jose Fernandez, it will not solve the holes in the rotation that need to be filed with cement, not patchwork and prayer.
Like a kid at his birthday party, I am hoping now that the first gift is unwrapped, there will be bigger and more exciting things to tear into as MLB’s Winter Meetings move into high gear starting next week.
As Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald wrote, “Volquez helps fortify a rotation that suffered a major setback when staff ace Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident in late September.
A veteran of 12 major-league seasons, Volquez owns a career mark of 89-79 with a 4.44 ERA.”
Volquez has spent the past two seasons with the Kansas City Royals, where he went 23-20 with a 4.43 ERA in 67 starts. A native of the Dominican Republic, Volquez has also pitched for Cincinnati, San Diego, Texas, Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Volquez joins a rotation that is likely to include Adam Conley, Tom Koehler, Wei-Yin Chen and possibly David Phelps.
But don’t think for a moment that Marlins’ management, mainly Michael Hill, president of baseball operations, will sit and watch other pitchers pass this team from south Florida by. There is still a lot to be excited about here in the Sunshine State. If anything, this kind of move – one that takes place before owners and team officials converge on Washington, D.C. – that gets people and players talking.
"We like our position-player core, and we'll put it up against anybody in the National League," said Hill via MLB.com. "Now, the goal is to find a way to fortify our pitching."
I’m from an era where word of mouth means everything. Just like every other sport, players talk. They dream of playing together, they encourage teammates to come along for the ride. They are the best marketing tool out there beside money. Hopefully, this move – one that could be a nice start – will become bigger like momentum of a six-run seventh inning.
The Marlins have reportedly been in talks with Kenley Jansen to help the bullpen and have bene linked to Doug Fister and Ivan Nova and Jon Niese. One more arm and the rotation looks a lot stronger, which also could lead to Phelps moving back to the bullpen and potentially become a closer.
The dominoes are in place, with one move needed for them to fall in order.
There has been much debate by myself and other writers as to what the Marlins should do to secure pitching. Money is obviously the biggest draw. Will this team trade Marcell Ozuna or look to shop some of its depleted farm system? There are still cards that have not been shown and Hill hasn’t played his hand completely. Hopefully, he is slow playing this poker game – with an eye for going all in once the team finds the winning combination of pitching that can help this team win now and in the future.