MLB Rumors: Free Agent Joe Blanton Among Marlins’ Top Targets
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Now that Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon are no longer on the market, free-agent activity is beginning to gain steam for the next tier of relief pitchers and teams, such as the Miami Marlins, who struck out on the big closers.

Miami was a dark horse to sign Chapman or Jansen, but ultimately was unable to prevent the former from returning to New York, and the latter from going with his heart to remain in Los Angeles.

As the search to fortify their bullpen presses forward, the Marlins reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with Junichi Tazawa.

The Marlins are now said to have their sights on Brad Ziegler and Joe Blanton, according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post:

After a strong season with the Kansas City Royals and Pittsburgh Pirates, Blanton signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers in January. The signing meant a second stint with the Dodgers, but Blanton this time returned a much different pitcher.

The Royals used Blanton as a starter and reliever, though Pittsburgh exclusively relied on the right-hander out of the bullpen. That was the role Blanton filled with the Dodgers, and to much success.

That was despite initial expectations being he would serve as a long reliever. Circumstances dictated that Blanton become a key cog out of the bullpen in high-leverage situations and as a set-up man.

He went 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 1.01 WHIP in 75 appearances, and posted an ERA under 2.10 in four of six months. Blanton did stumble a bit in the postseason, a byproduct of hanging sliders, and he finished with a 7.88 ERA.