Chen among Marlins' newcomers for 2016

February 11th, 2016

MIAMI -- Finishing 20 games under .500 last season (71-91) didn't persuade the Marlins into making wholesale changes for 2016. Instead, they retained their core, and they were still able to address the club's most pressing need -- a front-line starter.

Working with a budget of around $75 million, the front office made its biggest splash by signing free-agent left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, who fills the void of an experienced starter. But that was it as far acquiring a marquee free agent or pulling off a dramatic trade.

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Despite being deliberate on the market, Miami still brought in several new players who are expected to make a significant impact once Spring Training gets going with pitchers/catchers workouts on Feb. 19. Full-squad drills start up on Feb. 23 at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Newcomers to watch

LHP Chen: The Marlins' major offseason move, Chen signed the richest deal ever by a pitcher in the organization -- five years, $80 million. The 30-year-old, formerly with the Orioles, projects to settle in as the club's No. 2 starter, behind Jose Fernandez. Chen has thrown at least 185 2/3 innings in three of his four big league seasons, and he was 11-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 191 1/3 innings in 2015.

RHP Edwin Jackson: The 32-year-old has done it all in 12 big league seasons. He's been an All-Star, won a World Series and thrown a no-hitter. Last year, with the Cubs and Braves, Jackson adjusted to pitching out of the bullpen. Miami will give him a chance to win a back-of-the-rotation spot. Jackson made 27 starts for the Cubs in 2014, but all 47 of his appearances last year were in relief.

Spring Training info

INF Chris Johnson: Johnson, 31, adds some valuable experience off the bench, where he projects to back up Martin Prado at third base. But Johnson's biggest role is expected to be as a platoon option at first base with left-handed-hitting slugger Justin Bour. Johnson is a career .314/.350/.436 hitter against left-handed pitching. He also will be counted on as a pinch-hitter. If necessary, Johnson may even get some opportunities playing left field.

RHP Nefi Ogando: In early December, the Marlins claimed Ogando off waivers from the Phillies and added him to their 40-man roster. It was an under-the-radar move that may loom large for Miami's bullpen. The 26-year-old, who appeared in four games and threw four innings with Philadelphia last year, has upside and is getting a chance to see if he can catch on in South Florida. In the Minors with the Phils a year ago, Ogando threw 63 innings, and he posted a 2.86 ERA, while striking out 55, but he walked 31. The Marlins will work on polishing his mechanics.