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Marlins add Boxberger on Minors deal

@JoeFrisaro
February 14, 2020

JUPITER, Fla. -- The reshaping of the Marlins’ bullpen continues, as the organization reached an agreement on Friday with former All-Star reliever Brad Boxberger on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 31-year-old right-hander appeared in 29 games for the Royals last season, compiling a 5.40

JUPITER, Fla. -- The reshaping of the Marlins’ bullpen continues, as the organization reached an agreement on Friday with former All-Star reliever Brad Boxberger on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training.

The 31-year-old right-hander appeared in 29 games for the Royals last season, compiling a 5.40 ERA and one save in 26 2/3 innings. He also pitched in the Minor Leagues for the Nationals and Reds.

A source tells MLB.com that Boxberger's MLB base salary will be $1 million, plus incentives.

All offseason, the Marlins made it clear that addressing the bullpen was a high priority.

Marlins relievers posted an ERA of 4.97 in 2019 -- sixth highest in the Majors -- and tied for 29th with a 4.37 BB/9 ratio. Miami was the only MLB bullpen to record a negative WAR (-2.2 per FanGraphs).

“We were trying to put our best bullpen together,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Last year was not something you would sit back and say, 'That's going to help us at this level.'”

Miami is hopeful that Boxberger will have a bounce-back season after experiencing some struggles a year ago. The veteran has 77 career MLB saves, and he was an All-Star with the Rays in 2015.

Boxberger has logged 311 innings in the big leagues during his eight-year career, and he enters with the most saves of any reliever in Miami's camp.

Since last season, the Marlins also have added Brandon Kintzler (the expected closer), righty Yimi García (formerly with the Dodgers), left-hander Stephen Tarpley (trade with the Yankees) and prospect Sterling Sharp (Rule 5 Draft claim from the Nationals). Veteran Pat Venditte, who throws left- and right-handed, is also a non-roster invitee.

“One of the main things from a bullpen that you need is command,” said García, who has playoff experience. “Command of all your pitches. That's one of the things we need to work on, and the guys here, I know they can do it.”

In 2019, the Marlins' bullpen was a concern, especially in the second half after closer Sergio Romo was dealt to the Twins and Nick Anderson to the Rays.

“You don't move Nick Anderson, with what he was doing, if you're not building something,” Mattingly said. “Getting players in return.

“Sergio was throwing the ball well for us and a good guy for our club. Those are moves that obviously change your whole back end of your bullpen.”

At this point, the Marlins view Kintzler, who signed as a free agent for $3.25 million, as the front-runner to close. The right-hander has 49 career saves, including 29 in 2017, when he was an All-Star.

Boxberger was released by the Royals last July 1 before spending time in the Minors with the Nationals in Double-A and the Reds in Triple-A. His tenures weren’t very long with either organization, logging just 8 2/3 innings with Washington's Harrisburg affiliate and 5 1/3 innings with Cincinnati’s Louisville club before being released in August.

As recently as 2018, Boxberger collected 32 saves while with the D-backs. During his All-Star campaign with the Rays, Boxberger saved an American League-high 41 games.

Ryne Stanek, part of the Anderson trade, enters his first full season with the Marlins. The right-hander was a teammate of Boxberger with Tampa Bay.

“He's a vet,” Stanek said. "He's been around. He's done a lot of things. He's closed games before. He's done a lot of stuff in the game. Just his veteran presence. He's a pretty mild-mannered guy. Having him around to kind of teach and do all that, having somebody who knows the game, it never hurts.

"He's gone through some injuries, he's gone through a lot of stuff, and he's got a lot of knowledge.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.