The interesting offseason that is upon us in 2020 continues on with more moves for the Miami Marlins.
Recently, prior to the non-tender deadline, Miami assigned veteran right-hander Jose Urena for assignment. Shortly after, his spot was filled in a trade for side-armed righty Adam Cimber. Miami acquired the 30-year old Oregon native in a trade with the Cleveland Indians for cash considerations.
The Departure of Urena
The release of Urena while unfortunate comes as little surprise to the baseball world. Urena’s downward trending path alongside the rise of Sandy Alcantara, Pablo Lopez, and rookies Sixto Sanchez and Trevor Rogers put him in the background. Plus, with the depth of pitching prospects like Nick Neidert, Edward Cabrera, Braxton Garrett, and Daniel Castano to chose from, there was too much potential knocking at the door to keep Urena. Compared to what’s here now and what’s around the corner, Urena just didn’t do enough to make himself marketable in a really deep Miami pitching pool.
Urena did provide a spark occasionally throughout his six years as a member of the Miami Marlins. However, prior to his final arbitration-eligible year, most fans will remember Urena for more. Despite ranking 12th in Marlins history with 406 career strikeouts, Urena will most likely be remembered for his 2018 altercation with Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr. Across his tenure with Miami, Urena went 32-46 with a 4.60 ERA. His best seasons came in 2017 and 2018 where he went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA and 9-12 with a 3.98 ERA respectively. Through a career-high 174 innings in 2018, he produced a career-best 130 strikeouts. In 2017, Urena produced a career-best ERA+ mark of 104.
The Downside of Urena
Even during some of his better years, Urena wasn’t that strong. In 2017, Urena was in the bottom seven percent in the league with the most barrels hit at 8.6 percent. When he relied more heavily on the sinker in 2018 (at a 32 percent increase to 55 percent), batters started to tee off more. Urena’s hard-hit ball percentage rose nearly ten percent from 2017-2018.
In his final year with the Miami Marlins, Urena made $3.75 million but appeared in just five starts. His 2020 season officially ended after suffering a non-displaced ulna fracture on his right forearm. That was after becoming one of 18 Marlins to test positive for COVID-19 early in the season. In fact, the injury bug might be the biggest reason for his recent decline. Along with those five starts in 2020, Urena suffered a herniated disk in 2019 which limited him to just 13 starts on the year.
Even with all of that said, the road will likely still be paved for Urena going forward. The Dominican Republic native sat in the top 80 percent in fastball velocity in 2020. He also added nearly four inches of vertical drop on his sinker since the 2015 season. He still has starting potential under his belt. However, better use might be as a long reliever out of the bullpen where his four-pitch arsenal could be more effective. He was Miami’s opening day starter in 2018 so anythings possible for a Urena comeback as long as his health allows.
In Comes Cimber
In place of Urena, Cimber comes in as a dependable arm for a Miami bullpen that could use more. Cimber, who was originally drafted by the San Diego Padres and then was traded to Cleveland for Brand Hand, is an interesting addition for Miami. The Marlins traded six MLB years of Urena for three from Cimber. The 30-year old made 14 appearances in 2020 and collected five strikeouts and a 3.97 ERA.
Across his MLB tenure, Cimber has accounted for 104 strikeouts with an ERA+ of 113. Cimber is the 73rd Oregon native to grace the MLB ranks.
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