Marlins to explore 'pen market at GM Meetings

Club pleased with Ramos, but may seek new closer

Marlins to explore 'pen market at GM Meetings

MIAMI -- A premium has been placed on pitching as the Marlins test the market for available arms. The main focus is on front-line starters, but the front office is also seeking bullpen additions, perhaps even a closer.

Miami executives expect to have more clarity regarding bullpen options once the General Managers Meetings begin Monday in Boca Raton, Fla. The three-day event is the first time this offseason all 30 clubs will be face-to-face to toss around ideas.

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In 2015, A.J. Ramos filled the Marlins' closer role nicely, taking over the spot from Steve Cishek in mid-May, and saving 32 of 38 chances. The right-hander posted a 2.30 ERA and struck out 87 in 70 1/3 innings. Miami is weighing whether Ramos is the answer or if he is best suited for a setup role.

"It will be open for discussion," president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "With A.J., you look at his numbers and he was a good closer for the Miami Marlins."

A potential internal option to take over the role is Carter Capps, the hardest thrower on the team. Armed with a 100-mph fastball, Capps was simply dominant, striking out 58 in 31 innings and posting a 1.16 ERA.

Capps leaves with an injury

But Capps went on the disabled list Aug. 3 with a right elbow strain and missed the remainder of the year.

"Carter Capps was well on his way to having a tremendous year, and came up a little lame," Hill said. "But we are comfortable that he's healthy and ready to go. That's first and foremost."

The Marlins have their share of power arms in the bullpen. Right-handers Bryan Morris, Kyle Barraclough and Brian Ellington all throw 95 mph and higher. So does lefty Mike Dunn.

If there is an opportunity to improve the bullpen, Miami will certainly listen.

"We'll see what the market holds, either through trades or free agency," Hill said. "Look at the other pieces we have on the back end, with Carter and Morris and Barraclough and Ellington. They did a nice job."

Barraclough escapes a jam

A decision also must be made regarding Aaron Crow, who missed all of the season due to Tommy John surgery. If the team isn't confident he will be ready, he could be a non-tender candidate.

The Marlins used their bullpen heavily in 2015, logging 516 total innings, the 12th most in the Majors. The relievers also showed strikeout ability by fanning 499 (12th in MLB), but their 214 walks were tied for the sixth most.

There are some proven relievers on the roster and some promising rookies like Barraclough and Ellington. Most likely, the team will seek additions.

"We'll get a payroll -- which we don't have yet -- and we will see how it all shakes out," Hill said. "We'll try to address as many needs as possible."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.