Marlins may not look far to fill rotation

Phelps an internal option who offers Miami flexibility

February 16th, 2016
David Phelps and students at Renaissance Charter School in Cooper City, Fla., during Play Ball caravan week. (Robert Vigon/Miami Marlins)Robert Vigon/Miami Marlins

MIAMI -- The Marlins continue to keep tabs on the free-agent market for an available starting pitcher, but the club isn't forcing the issue. If the candidate isn't willing to sign as a non-roster invitee with an invitation to Spring Training, chances are no deal will be struck.

Besides, there are internal alternatives already available -- like David Phelps, who could help as a starter or reliever.

"We're happy with what we have," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "If there is an opportunity to add one, at our price, then it will be something we'll look to do. But we don't have to do anything, and we are happy with where we are right now."

Hill noted three rotation spots are set -- Jose Fernandez, Wei-Yin Chen and Tom Koehler. The other two spots are up for grabs. Jarred Cosart could have an inside edge, but has to prove it in Spring Training, which starts up on Friday at the Roger Dean Stadium complex in Jupiter, Fla.

Full-squad workouts begin on Feb. 23.

Miami has had discussions with free agents Kyle Lohse, Alfredo Simon and Aaron Harang.

Along with Phelps, Cosart, Edwin Jackson, Adam Conley and Justin Nicolino are in the mix for the final two rotation spots.

With experience starting and relieving, Phelps, 29, offers versatility. A year ago, he logged 112 innings, the third most on the team. Phelps appeared in 23 games with 19 starts, and had a 4-8 record with a 4.50 ERA, striking out 77 with 33 walks.

"It wouldn't be Spring Training if it wasn't like that," said Phelps. "We're always going to need pitching, whether it is in the bullpen or as a starter. Like I said last spring, my job is to go out and help this team find ways to win ballgames, whether that is in the bullpen or in the rotation.

"Obviously, I'd prefer to start. I made 19 starts last year. Outside of a couple, I think I gave the team a chance to win every time I went out. Go out and just pitch to my ability, and hopefully, it takes care of itself."

As a starter, Phelps posted a 4.39 ERA in 106 2/3 innings. But his season was cut short in August, when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture of the radius bone in the right forearm.

Phelps insists he is fully recovered, and the Marlins don't anticipate him throwing with any restrictions from the start of Spring Training.

"I'm excited," Phelps said. "It's never easy finishing the season on the DL. Any time you get a doctor telling you it's something they've never seen before, it's a little scary. But our plan went well. I haven't had any setbacks throwing. Everything feels good."