Ely discusses both the obvious and intangible benefits that should be tempting the Marlins to invest in a free agent starting pitcher for the 2021 season.
With news on Wednesday that the Miami Marlins attended a mound session for two-time AL Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, Ely Sussman explores his potential fit with the Fish. As currently constituted, the projected 2021 rotation is deep with talented arms, but severely lacking in experience and littered with injury concerns. Investing in a veteran who has repeatedly endured a full MLB season’s workload could prove to be an incredible value, on and off the field.
Enjoy Episode 87!
Miami scouting Kluber up close is not all that notable—nearly every MLB team had a representative there. And as A.T. Werdal pointed out, free agent relievers Anthony Swarzak and Steve Cishek also threw at the Florida facility on Wednesday. By Kim Ng’s own admission, addressing the bullpen is a top priority for the Marlins.
Nearly 25 teams showed up at Corey Kluber’s showcase today, and scouts came away impressed. His fastball sat 88-90 — and he’s got more velocity in the tank as he builds toward spring training. Kluber threw 30 pitches, including all of his off-speed stuff. Strong market expected.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 13, 2021
But what makes Kluber such a tantalizing target is the combination of his résumé and the relatively low risk involved in signing him. Even in an offseason where free agent starting pitchers have received great contracts, the former Indians and Rangers right-hander lacks leverage. He is older than most (turning 35 in April) and has made just eight pedestrian-quality starts over the last two seasons.
The Marlins are partially responsible for the detour Kluber’s career has taken. A Brian Anderson comebacker on May 1, 2019 fractured his right arm. Prior to that, he had turned in five consecutive 200-inning workloads; for context, all of the pitchers currently in the Marlins organization have combined for only one 200-inning season in their careers (Sandy Alcantara, 2019).
There are so many talented young arms who have recently impressed in the Marlins starting rotation or are on the verge of doing so (Edward Cabrera, Max Meyer, etc.). As soon as 2022, the dream of a dominant, entirely homegrown staff could be a reality.
However, for this upcoming season, they would benefit greatly from adding a revered graybeard on a one-year deal. If not Kluber, I’d recommend José Quintana. At the very least, Gio González or old friend Aníbal Sánchez could be useful stopgaps.
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