With a bullpen that has struggled for nearly the entirety of the 2014 season, the Miami Marlins have been aggressive in trying to address the problem in recent days. The moves they’ve made, however, are leaving plenty of people scratching their heads.
Miami’s first move came on Sunday, when the team acquired right-hander Bryan Morris from the Pittsburgh Pirates in return for the 39th overall pick in Thursday’s MLB Draft (one of the competitive balance selections, which teams are permitted to trade unlike “regular” draft picks). Miami will also surrender the $1.4 Million slot value of that pick from their draft pool, but more on that in a moment.
Picking up Morris seems like a reasonable move on it’s surface. The 27 year old has been working out of the Pirates’ bullpen for the past two-plus seasons and has seen some fairly decent results. He’s made 21 appearances for the team this year, going 4-0 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.563 WHIP in 23.2 IP. He doesn’t strike out many batters (career 5.5 K/9) and needs to limit his walks (4.0 BB/9) but he’s otherwise a serviceable middle reliever – one whom the Marlins likely overpaid to acquire.
On Monday it started to become known that the Marlins weren’t finished and would continue to look for moves to improve their bullpen. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported a few hours later that the team had signed veteran Kevin Gregg to a deal for the remainder of the season. Gregg will spend the next eight or nine days working to get himself up to speed, as he hasn’t been pitching anywhere on the season to date, and then he will join the team’s bullpen. Miami will need to create room at that point in time, both on their 25-man and 40-man rosters, for the soon-to-be 36 year old.
Gregg holds a 4.07 ERA and 1.382 WHIP for his career, pitching 700.2 innings over his eleven year career.
Rosenthal further noted, however, that part of the team’s intention behind dealing away a draft pick for Morris was to free up room to bring Gregg aboard. Yes, the Marlins – who already have one of the lowest payrolls in the Major Leagues – traded a potential future asset in order to save $1.4 Million, just to spend that savings on … Kevin Gregg?
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 2, 2014
The Marlins bullpen has been a certain problem on the season so far, there’s no denying that. Miami’s 4.04 bullpen ERA ranks 24th in the Major Leagues. Their .256 opponent’s batting average is tied for the fifth worst in baseball. The group has also allowed the fifth highest walk total, with 84. The only real positives from the Miami bullpen have been Steve Cishek and Carter Capps, the latter of whom is awaiting word on the severity of his elbow injury and could be in danger of missing the rest of the season.
Miami’s bullpen needs help. Morris may offer some support, but it’s unclear how useful Gregg will prove to be. Factoring in the odd cost that the pair will carry they could be under some extra scrutiny to succeed.