Marlins part ways with veteran Straily

Anticipated No. 2 starter released; Miami looks to go with young corps

March 25th, 2019

JUPITER, Fla. -- Before breaking camp, the Marlins made one last surprise Spring Training move that allowed them to round out their rotation with four promising starters who were all rookies a year ago.

Right-hander , projected as the No. 2 starter based on his track record entering Spring Training, was released on Monday morning, which set the starting five as: Jose Urena, , Pablo Lopez, and .

With the emergence of their young starters, the Marlins felt Straily was expendable. They actively tried to trade the 30-year-old throughout Spring Training, but couldn’t find a match. So rather than retain the veteran, or even move him to the bullpen, they opted to cut ties.

“We’re giving him the opportunity to go start elsewhere,” president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. “I’d say [he was surprised]. But I have a great relationship with him. You’re always going to be open, honest and direct. But it’s the job. It’s what we had to do. I just walked him through everything. He understood it, gave us a hug and we wish him nothing but the best.”

The Marlins begin the season against the Rockies on Thursday at Marlins Park. Urena, the veteran of the staff, gets the Opening Day nod.

Richards, Lopez and Alcantara round out the four-game set. Smith goes on the fifth game, which is April 1 against the Mets. All four were rookies in 2018.

“From Day 1 of camp, we talked about competition and taking the best 25 south with us,” Hill said. “We had a lot of great competition over the course of Spring Training. Our starting pitching was one of the areas we felt like was going to be a lot of competition. We had seven guys going into spring, and the competition did not disappoint. These guys came ready to make a team.”

The Marlins had been open to carrying seven starters for five spots, but ultimately decided to part with Straily, who becomes free to sign with any team.

Wei-Yin Chen had been in the starting mix, but will be in the bullpen.

The Marlins will carry 13 pitchers, with eight relievers. They will be Sergio Romo, Drew Steckenrider, Adam Conley, Tayron Guerrero, Austin Brice, Tyler Kinley, Nick Anderson and Chen.

Riley Ferrell, a Rule 5 Draft claim from the Astros, is expected to open on the injury list with right biceps tendinitis.

Hill said the club considered moving on from Straily back in January during the arbitration process. Straily and the Marlins ended up avoiding arbitration by agreeing on a 2019 salary of $5 million. By releasing Sraily, the Marlins save about $3.8 million, owing the pitcher just over $1.2 million in termination pay.

“This has been ongoing for a while,” Hill said. “As we approached the tender date, we had decisions we were exploring. Where were we at with our younger guys? Where was Caleb at in his rehab? I think, ultimately, it made sense to tender him and carry him into Spring Training, because we still had a lot of questions to have answered. We didn't know Trevor Richards was going to develop the breaking ball he developed.”

There were injury questions heading into Spring Training with Smith, who had left lat surgery last July. But Smith quickly showed he was healthy and ready to make the club.

“Caleb, from Day 1, was just really throwing the ball well,” Hill said.

Straily struggled statistically in Grapefruit League play. In 16 2/3 innings, his ERA was 5.94 with 14 strikeouts and five walks. He also allowed six home runs.

It's hard to say how meaningful Spring Training statistics are, as experienced starters are often working on things. They aren’t game planning or sequencing as they would in the regular season.

Straily had been a member of the starting rotation since being acquired from the Reds in 2017. He went 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 23 starts last year, throwing 122 1/3 innings. His season was marred by a right forearm strain early and an oblique strain late in the year. In 2017, the right-hander was 10-9 with a 4.26 ERA in 33 games covering 181 2/3 innings.

“You always see veterans and you know the names,” manager Don Mattingly said. “All those veterans were young at one point, and they had to start somewhere. We just felt like this rotation is more about us moving forward. These guys are young and they have experience. It's not like these guys haven't pitched here.”

Anderson hit by pitch

The Marlins received a scare during their Future’s Game scrimmage with Minor Leaguers on Monday morning at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. Third baseman was struck in the triceps, just above the left elbow by a fastball from Pablo Lopez. Though he left the ballpark wearing a compression sleeve, Anderson says he will be ready for Opening Day.

“Just took one above the elbow, but got hit in a good spot,” Anderson said. “I’m fine, 100 percent. We’re good. Definitely, optimistic.”