AP source: Marlins acquire Straily for minor leaguers
MIAMI (AP) Replacing Jose Fernandez will be a collective task for the Miami Marlins, with 14-game winner Dan Straily joining the effort Thursday.
Miami obtained Straily from the Cincinnati Reds for three minor leaguers, including right-handers Luis Castillo and Austin Brice, both highly regarded prospects in the Marlins' thin system. Outfielder Isaiah White was also dealt to Cincinnati.
Earlier this offseason the Marlins acquired another former Reds pitcher, Edinson Volquez, and they've also added pitchers Jeff Locke, Brad Ziegler and Junichi Tazawa since the death of ace Fernandez in a boating accident last September.
The roster now includes at least nine starting candidates for manager Don Mattingly to assess in spring training. The bullpen is deep and talented, and the team might carry 13 pitchers, president of baseball operations Michael Hill said.
''We're going to be creative in how they're used, and creative in how we get the ball to the back end,'' Hill said. ''Over the course of 162 games you're going to need as much pitching depth as possible. That's what our goal has been this offseason - to give Donnie as much depth and as many options as possible.''
Locke will be among those competing for a starting job, but the most likely rotation is Straily, Volquez and holdovers Wei-Yin Chen, Adam Conley and Tom Koehler. That group went a combined 49-43 last year.
The Marlins are optimistic they can end a 12-year playoff drought this season, which is why they were willing to part with prospects to obtain Straily.
''We gave up quality,'' Hill said, ''but in return we felt we were getting quality in someone who will have an immediate impact.''
Straily was the Reds' biggest pitching surprise last year. They claimed the right-hander off waivers three days before the start of the season when their rotation was wiped out by injuries, and he had the best year of his career.
''He locked in last year,'' Hill said. ''Every player has a different development timeline. But we faced him last year and saw a pitcher who had command of the strike zone, and could move the ball in and out and keep hitters off balance.''
Straily went 14-8 for the last-place Reds with a 3.76 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 34 games, leading the staff in wins innings and strikeouts.
In 15 starts after the All-Star break, he went 10-2 with a 3.10 ERA. He tied Chicago's Jon Lester and Washington's Max Scherzer for most wins in the NL in the second half.
Straily, 28, has a career record of 27-21 with a 4.24 ERA. The right-hander tied for the most homers allowed in the NL last year with 31, but as a flyball pitcher he's a good fit for spacious Marlins Park.
Miami will be Straily's fifth team since he broke into the majors in 2012. He has also pitched for Oakland, the Cubs and Houston.
Reds general manager Dick Williams said the Marlins didn't include the two pitching prospects in their initial discussions with the Reds after the season.
''We identified some of these guys as guys we absolutely were targeting and we made it clear that we wouldn't go forward if we couldn't get access to those guys,'' Williams said. ''Over time, they became available to us in the deal. They were not at first.''
Castillo, 24, was the Marlins' minor league pitcher of the year and the Florida State League pitcher of the year in 2016. He went a combined 8-6 with a 2.26 ERA in 26 games for Single-A Jupiter and Double-A Jacksonville, and his ERA ranked third among all minor league pitchers with at least 24 starts. He's expected to start next season in Double-A.
Brice, 24, made his major league debut in 2016, when he had a 7.07 ERA but held opponents to a .173 batting average in 15 games out of the Marlins' bullpen. He went 4-7 with a 2.74 ERA in 32 appearances and 13 starts split between Jacksonville and Triple-A New Orleans.
Williams said Brice could pitch in the Reds' bullpen next season. Reds relievers gave up a major league record of 103 homers last season and led the NL in walks, runs and hit batters.
White, 20, has hit .247 with 18 stolen bases in 89 games in two seasons with the Gulf Coast League Marlins and Single-A Batavia.
With Straily gone, the rebuilding Reds will look for another veteran to provide depth in the rotation. Williams said it was difficult to trade the team's top starter from last year.
''But you really have to make decisions with the long term in mind,'' Williams said. ''I am committed to bringing us back to championship baseball, and you've got to take risks.''
The Reds designated outfielder Steve Selsky for assignment.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.