Tom Giles and Evan Drellich discuss concerns over the Red Sox bullpen.
MIAMI - The perennially thrifty Miami Marlins have become big spenders in the late innings.
Two people familiar with the deal said right-hander Brad Ziegler agreed Friday to a $16 million, two-year contract with the Marlins, who added their second former Red Sox reliever in as many days.
The people confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it won't be final until Ziegler passes a physical. The agreement came shortly after right-hander Junichi Tazawa finalized his $12 million, two-year contract with the Marlins.
Miami is hoping a deep bullpen will give manager Don Mattingly lots of options to help compensate for a rotation weakened by the loss of ace Jose Fernandez, killed in a boating accident in September.
"I'm very excited with how our bullpen looks," said president of baseball operations Michael Hill, speaking before the Ziegler deal was confirmed. "We wanted to create as much depth and talent and versatility as we could, and give Donnie as many options as possible to potentially shorten the game."
Tazawa's acquisition came with an endorsement from Ichiro Suzuki, the Marlins' outfielder and 3,000-hit club member. What was Suzuki's scouting report on Tazawa, a fellow native of Japan?
"That he's a very good pitcher and can help us," Hill said. "He signed off, and that was good to know."
Ziegler is a nine-year veteran with a career ERA of 2.44 and 85 saves. He has pitched for three teams, including Arizona and Boston last year.
Tazawa had been with the Red Sox since his rookie year in 2009, and has a career ERA of 3.58. Miami swung the deals for both pitchers after falling short in its pursuit of high-priced closers Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen.
"We know there's competition for players," Hill said. "You have a Plan A, but you have a Plan B, C and D to accomplish your goal."
Ziegler is expected to compete with incumbent A.J. Ramos for the closer's job. Tazawa should help compensate for the loss of left-hander Mike Dunn to Colorado in free agency.
"The goal is always to try to put together the deepest bullpen we can, and a bullpen with different looks and different ways to get people out," Hill said. "With Junichi you see someone who has pitched in the very competitive American League East and has a varied repertoire of weapons to get hitters out."
The Marlins have also acquired starting pitchers Edinson Volquez and Jeff Locke this offseason, and they added A.J. Ellis as their backup catcher.
Miami designated right-hander Nefi Ogando for assignment to clear a roster spot.
BOSTON -- Although it hasn’t been the problem so far in the ALDS, the Red Sox’ bullpen has been the biggest question mark on this team throughout the season.
There have been multiple topics of discussion regarding almost every reliever: pitching in a clean inning versus runners on base, pitching in a non-save situation, not have a set inning -- you name it, it’s been brought up.
As for their ALDS opponent, Andrew Miller - known more as a late-inning, high-leverage reliever - entered in the fifth inning of Game 1 for the Indians. Not only that, he pitched two innings and struck out four.
Some might say, “Well Andrew Miller is debatably the best reliever in the game,” which is a fair claim.
But Cleveland’s No. 2 in its bullpen is closer Cody Allen, who had a 2.51 ERA with 87 strikeouts in 68 innings. Although Allen’s been the Indians primary closer since 2014, there was a time where he pitched as early as the fifth inning.
In fact, earlier in his career, he also pitched in innings two through four. The Red Sox saw him earn the save Thursday after a 1 2/3-inning appearance, with four strikeouts, too.
So, the natural question is, “Can Allen do what Miller’s doing if need be?”
“Absolutely,” Allen told CSNNE.com after Sunday Game 3 was rained out. “I think it’s more so just not being caught off guard. Tito [Francona] does a really good job of communicating with us about certain scenarios that may come up throughout the game that we may be used that’s maybe not a situation where we would normally throw.
“So, as long as we’re aware that it could happen, you’re going to prepare yourself. And as long as you prepare yourself accordingly you’re not going to be caught off guard.”
The Indians closer has no problem pitching outside of the ninth inning.
What about dealing with a clean inning versus coming in with runners on, is that a problem?
“No,” Allen said. “You know obviously [when] you come in with a clean inning you can help try and dictate what happens.
“But you’re just called in -- you just pitch when you’re asked to pitch; whether there’s guys on base, certain scenarios call for something where you’re trying to strand a couple guys out there or you come in with first and third and trying to get a double play ball. It’s more just going out there and you’re facing a really good hitter and just trying to make good pitches and get that guy out.”
Now comparing Allen to Red Sox reliever Brad Ziegler isn’t necessarily fair, given Ziegler is not a strikeout pitcher -- so he’s at a noticeable disadvantage from Allen in those situations.
However, Allen shed a lot of light on the issues surrounding the 2016 Boston bullpen.
If nothing else, Boston’s relievers should heed one message from the Orlando, Florida native: “You just pitch when you’re asked to pitch.”
That might solve a few headaches in the future.