Ng: Marlins continue to target bullpen market

December 15th, 2020

MIAMI -- The Marlins netted two potential relievers in the Rule 5 Draft last week, and they aren't done shopping in the bullpen market.

General manager Kim Ng on Tuesday reiterated that the bullpen remains the Marlins’ highest priority, and ideally, the club would like to add a couple more relievers before Spring Training gets underway in February.

“We anticipate acquiring more arms, whether via trade or the free-agent market, I’m not really sure at this point,” Ng said in a Zoom call. “I will tell you we have a handful of relievers that we have targeted on the free-agent market. Hopefully, a couple of those come to fruition. We’ll see.”

The Marlins are open to signing free agents or swinging potential trades to upgrade the relief corps. The back end is thin after ’s $4 million club option wasn’t picked up and became a free agent.

Kintzler remains a possibility to return, but even if he does so, it doesn’t automatically mean he will be the closer. In 2020, the 36-year-old saved 12 of 14 chances, and posted a 2.22 ERA in 24 1/3 innings.

Ideally, Miami is hoping to add a candidate with a history of getting more swings and misses. The Marlins are exploring both the trade and free-agent markets for either relievers who have closed games or have big league experience handling high-leverage innings.

But questions remain if the Marlins are willing to explore the high end of the closer market, which includes All-Star lefty , who began his career with the Marlins.

“I think there are some really good arms out there,” Ng said of the closer market. “At this point, we are in the market for relievers. I’m not sure that we’re going to be at that [closer] end. But [talks are] moving.”

The Marlins have already added three relief candidates to the 40-man roster.

Last month, Miami acquired right-hander (3.89 career ERA) from Cleveland for cash. In last week’s Rule 5 Draft, the Marlins selected right-hander Paul Campbell from the Rays and traded with the D-backs for righty Zach Pop. Arizona chose Pop with the sixth pick in the Rule 5 Draft with the purpose of flipping him to Miami for a player to be named.

Pop, a seventh-round Draft pick of the Dodgers in 2017, was one of five prospects dealt by Los Angeles to the Orioles a couple of years ago for Manny Machado.

By the time Spring Training begins, Pop will be more than 20 months removed from Tommy John surgery.

“We picked up two quality arms in Paul Campbell and Zach Pop,” Ng said. “Paul Campbell has started as well as relieved, has a four-pitch mix and is a great strike thrower.

“Zach was included in a trade of Manny Machado. He’s got a great arm, a good fastball and a swing-and-miss slider. Before the surgery, he was touted as one of the better relievers in the Minor Leagues.”