Welcome to the Dwork On Sports blog. This is a place where I’ll cover all things related to South Florida sports, with a steady combination of facts and opinions while ultimately keeping a close eye on anything and everything related to our local teams.
The Miami Marlins continue to prepare for the new baseball season as Spring Training has reached its halfway point. I don’t know how much stock you put into spring records but for what it’s worth, the Marlins have been first in the Grapefruit League standings for the majority of the month. Heading into Thursday’s games, Miami holds a 9-5 record and has looked pretty good as the 2015 roster continues taking shape.
Earlier this week the Marlins made a few interesting roster moves that are worth mentioning. Several players that were considered on the big league roster bubble received word that they would be starting the season somewhere other than Miami.
Infielders Justin Bour and Derek Dietrich, both of whom spent time with the Marlins last season, were optioned to Triple-A New Orleans.
Joining them is catcher J.T. Realmuto and righty Andre Rienzo. Realmuto is considered the Marlins catcher of the future and will be called up if either of Miami’s main guys, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Jeff Mathis, have to miss any time.
Still in the mix to potentially make the Opening Day roster is a pair of lefties hoping to join the Marlins bullpen, though they have traveled down very different paths to get where they are.
Veteran pitcher Pat Misch has already had a reasonably successful MLB career, with over 200 innings of big league work under his belt. Injuries derailed his time in the majors, he hasn’t pitched there since 2011, but the 33-year-old has put in the work to try and make it back.
With no prospects for a job in the bigs after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, Misch arranged a tryout to pitch in the Puerto Rican league. Starting out on a specific pitch count, he worked his way into a consistent role and found himself playing in front of professional scouts once again.
Marlins officials liked what they saw of Misch in Puerto Rico enough to offer him a minor league contract with an invite to their big league camp.
So far this spring he has pitched well but still has to compete with several other relievers vying for just one or two spots.
Another lefty in the same situation as Misch is Rule 5 Draft pickup Andrew McKirahan. Being a Rule 5 pick means that McKirahan has two possible landing spots for the upcoming season. He either must remain on the Marlins 25-man roster for the entire season or be returned, along with $50,000, to the original club that left him exposed for the Rule 5 Draft, the Chicago Cubs.
A former 21st round pick by the Cubs, McKirahan has never pitched at a level higher than Double-A. Still, the Marlins have seen something they like out of the 25-year-old southpaw and are giving him more and more opportunities to show that he deserves to remain with the club. He’s certainly one that I’m keeping an eye on.
The last time that Miami struck gold in the Rule 5 Draft was when they selected a guy named Dan Uggla.
The last thing I’ll mention today is regarding Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. I wrote last week that the Marlins were among several teams interested in signing the veteran free agent and had reportedly made an offer before Olivera changed representation.
It’s now being reported that he’s likely to make a decision on where to sign by the end of this week. It’s thought that Olivera is looking for a six-year deal while some of the interested teams have only offered five years.
The offer that Miami reportedly made to Olivera was a seven-year deal worth around $50 million, which gave him a lower annual average salary than he is apparently looking for. If that offer was in fact made, it was before Olivera switched representation.
The Giants, Braves, Padres, Dodgers and Athletics have all been linked to Olivera. At this point it’s anyone’s guess where he will end up as several offers that were made prior to his agency switch were then taken off the table. We’ll find out soon enough who wants him the most.
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