In the continued effort to hit on their offseason priority, the Miami Marlins acquired another bullpen arm. That move was in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Minor league first-basemen Evan Edwards will head to Tampa while the Marlins acquire John Curtiss.
Curtiss joins the Marlins after 25 innings pitched as a member of Tampa Bay in 2020. He now joins the Marlins on a contract that looks to take him through the 2025 campaign. With the trade being made on an already full 40-man roster, the Marlins have designated Harold Ramirez for assignment. As Curtis joins the Marlins, it marks the sixth bullpen piece added Miami this off-season. He joins fellow trade acquisitions in Adam Cimber and Dylan Floro, free-agent signees Anthony Bass and Ross Detwiler, not to mention Rule-5 draft Draft pick Zach Pop.
Acquiring Curtiss Fits the Mold
Continuing the theme for Miami this offseason is effective but not flashy. As the Marlins acquire John Curtiss, it fits the exact mold of what the Marlins are looking for out of their bullpen arms. Curtiss is an effective strike-thrower who can be used in late-game situations. The biggest evidence of that was 70 percent of his pitch count coming in the fifth inning or later according to Baseball Savant. Another big piece to the puzzle is the team control on Curtiss.
With the 2020 season being labeled his “rookie” year, Miami won’t have to mess with arbitration with Curtis until 2023. The 28-year old won’t hit free agency until the 2026 campaign as well. That youthful status is both a positive and a cause for a pause. Curtiss has pitched 10 innings or more just once in his brief MLB stint. That means there’s more to be desired than what has already been put on the table with just 18 appearances from 2017-2019.
Effectiveness Is the Name of the Game
Curtiss does bear an interesting mix when you boil things down. The bulk of that is looking at what was undoubtedly a breakout year in 2020. Despite a shortened season, the pandemic-stricken campaign witnessed Curtiss produce career-highs in innings pitched (25), pitches thrown (384), and 25 strikeouts. The former sixth-round pick progressed noticeably from his time as a member of the Minnesota Twins who originally drafted him in 2014.
Don’t mistake it, Curtiss can throw strikes, but pure strike-throwing hasn’t been his biggest draw. The brightest flare for Curtiss has been his effectiveness as of late. His two-pitch arsenal of fastball (averaging 94 mph) and slider did produce a strikeout rate in the 60th percentile (25.3 percent). There is more to the story, however. Curtiss gave up only three long balls and in total just six extra-base hits with only four barrels met all season.
As the Marlins acquire John Curtiss, the other half of that effectiveness came in his calm demeanor on the mound. That helped result in a walk rate of just three percent. That itself ranked inside the top 99th percentile across MLB. All that led to a pitch-to-contact type of performance out of Curtiss who had just one double-play under his belt in 2020. The Dallas Texas native has also dabbled with a sinker but the pitch most likely to lead the way in the future for Curtiss will be the slider which has kept hitters below .200 in each of the past two seasons.
The Departure of Edwards
What Miami will be giving up is their 2019 fourth-round selection out of N.C State University. Evan Edwards hasn’t moved past High-A ball to this point but has produced some solid numbers so far. Through 73 combined games, the 23-year old has produced a slash line of .281/.357/.442. All that came complete with nine home runs and a whopping 50 RBI.
For the Marlins overall, this was a move that didn’t have any negative side effects. It may have taken away from their depth by a slight margin, but Lewin Diaz (Miami’s eighth-ranked prospect) already has experience under his belt at that position from 2020. It is expected that Diaz, who’s 24-years old, will take over first-base duties in the long run. That only lead to Edwards being more expendable with the plethora of talent closer to being MLB-ready.
For Ramirez, his departure is the aftereffect of something Miami hasn’t had in a while, a plethora of MLB-ready talent. The outfield alone in Miami is already crowded with Corey Dickerson, Starling Marte, and the recent signing of veteran Adam Duvall sporting the projected starting roles. That’s without mentioning more talented youth in Lewis Brinson, Magneuris Sierra, and prospects Monte Harrison, Jesus Sanchez, and Jerar Encarnacion taking up potential bench spots. Overall it wasn’t a matter of dislike but stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s not a prospect or a stopgap or with any minor league options remaining. That basically tied Miami’s hands and left them with one option.
Ramirez slashed .276/.312/.416 with an OPS+ of 92 across his 119-game rookie year in 2019. The 2020 campaign wasn’t near as great. COVID-19 put a big pause at the beginning of the year. His fortunes didn’t fare out any better as a left hamstring injury-riddled the rest of the 2020 campaign.
Overall, the move might not turn many heads but it’s the slow and steady game for Miami. Curtiss’ arrival is just one of now several calculated moves to help the Marlins make a push for a second straight postseason appearance.
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