Daniel Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront didn’t do much to make the Red Sox’s decision for them in their final bids for the two openings in the rotation.
Bard followed the solid outings by Aceves and Doubront yesterday with six innings of three-run ball against the Twins on Friday. A Justin Morneau double was the only extra-base hit he allowed, and he struck out seven and walked three on his way to a win.
It figures to be Bard’s final official outing of the spring, barring a move to send him to the pen and have him make a relief appearance early next week. He went 2-2 with a 6.57 ERA and an 18/16 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings.
Aceves and Doubront both outpitched Bard, who was the clear favorite for the fourth spot going into the spring. Aceves had a 5.50 ERA, but nine of the 11 earned runs he allowed came in one outing and he was very good in the other four. Doubront had a 2.70 ERA in 16 2/3 innings.
The guess is that Doubront will be the fifth starter, since he wouldn’t be the same kind of weapon out of the pen than Bard or Aceves would be. Bard still appears to be the favorite for the fourth spot, if only by default. One thing working in his favor: it’s doubtful the Red Sox would consider returning him to the rotation later after starting him in the pen. Aceves, on the other hand, is versatile enough to go back and forth if needed.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.