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Marlins Sign Ross Detwiler and Sandy Leon

Miami Marlins Agree to Terms with Ross Detwiler and Sandy Leon 

The Miami Marlins have been making subtle moves so far this offseason. The team’s latest moves came this past weekend when they agreed to terms with left-hander Ross Detwiler and catcher Sandy Leon.

Both  additions do not alter the competitive landscape of the National League East to a large degree. However, both additions add key depth for a Marlins organization on the rise with minimal financial impact.

Addition of Ross Detwiler 

In regard to Ross Detwiler, he will join the Marlins as a much-needed upgrade in the bullpen. The Marlins agreed to a one-year deal worth $850,000 dollars with the 34-year old. The deal also includes a possible $100,000 in incentives. His arrival means the end of the line for fellow lefty Stephen Tarpley who was designated for assignment by the team.

With his arrival, the Marlins now become the eighth team Detwiler has pitched for. Detwiler first hit the MLB level with the Washington Nationals where he stayed until 2015 when he was sent to the Texas Rangers. Following that, he bounced between the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, and Seatle Mariners. That was all before his most recent two-year tenure with the Chicago White Sox. During his time with the Southsiders, Detwiler was a hybrid pitcher (starter and reliever). His time in Chicago included an ERA of 3.20 with a 1-1 record through 44 innings pitched.

Furthermore, the veteran lefty finished off a horrible 2019 campaign located in the bottom 20 percent in over nine statistical categories. Ultimately it was a tale of two completely different seasons from 2019 to 2020. It was a rejuvenating campaign for Detwiler who sat in the 58th percentile in whiff percentage based on data compiled by Baseball Savant. In addition, Detwiler sat in the 92nd percentile in barrels missed which was due to the fact that he added a slider back into his arsenal. That pitch alone was quite substantial for Detwiler as eight of his 15 regular season strikeouts came via the slider.

Potential Role for Ross Detwiler

The addition of Detwiler now gives the Marlins two veteran left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster along with Richard Bleier. The other southpaws gracing the Marlins roster include: Braxton Garrett, Trevor RogersDaniel Castano, and Alex Vesia. All of those individuals have less than two full years of MLB experience under their belts. There still are reports that Miami will seek a hard-throwing closer, but without having topped 92 mph in fastball velocity since 2016, it’s unlikely Detwiler will slide into that role.

All that leads to the real possibility that Detwiler will find himself in the bullpen for Miami. Marlins Park has been fairly good to Detwiler over his big league career with a 2.93 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP complete with ten strikeouts. The only question lies in the fact that he hasn’t seen Marlins Park since 2014 and since then the outfield fence has been moved in twice.

Catcher Sandy Leon

The Marlins also went out and signed veteran backstop Sandy Leon to a minor league contract. He was one of seven total minor league signings for Miami. The Venezuelan-born was also given an invitation to spring camp with the possibility of making the major league roster.

Potential is the Word for Sandy Leon

For Leon, the Marlins are the third team over his big league tenure. Like Detwiler, the 31-year old journeyman started out with the Nationals where he played for three seasons. From there he landed with the Boston Red Sox for four years and finally in the Cleveland Indians organization where he played in 2020.

Potential is a strong word to use in association with Leon. At his peak, Leon has the potential to be the best of both worlds between Chad Wallach and Jorge Alfaro the top two catchers for the Marlins. His best time came while in Boston where he hit .229 with 99 RBI and 66 extra-base hits. In addition, his best offensive season came in 2016 where he set career-highs in average (.310), OBP (.369), slugging (.476), and OPS+ (122). However, despite that season Leon hasn’t found much consistency through his playing tenure. Aside from 2016, Leon hasn’t come close to batting .300. In 2020 with the Indians, he recorded just nine hits along with four RBI in 81 plate appearances.

The biggest savior for Leon over the years has been his strong defensive performances. He has been known to call good games and keep base runners at bay with a 34 percent caught-stealing rate. More impressively, as noted by Jordan McPherson, are his pitch framing abilities. That included a 49.8 percent called strike rating on the edges in 2020. Collectively, that puts Leon ahead of Wallach (45.8 percent) and Alfaro (41.3 percent). The 2018 season was one of his best defensive showings (12.5 FRM) which included an average pop time to second base of 1.97.

Only time will tell as to whether or not whether Leon will be worthy of another major league stint, but the potential is there. Potential that could go a little further with his big league experience.

Part of Something More

The Miami Marlins are not done with these series of moves. There are still several moves that are likely on the table. That includes Miami’s interest in bolstering up right field along with a strong closer.


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