Braves should make a claim on LHP Jarlin Garcia

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The Marlins signing former Brave Matt Joyce has a domino effect that could potentially help Atlanta. In order to create a roster spot for Joyce, the Fish designated southpaw reliever Jarlin Garcia for assignment, a guy who could tremendously help Atlanta’s bullpen in 2020.

On the surface, DFA’ing Garcia makes little sense. He led the Marlins’ pen in WAR (1.3), FIP (3.77), WHIP (1.105) and ERA (3.02). Jarlin does not strike out many but did hold batters to a .216 average and has favorable splits against lefties over his career. He may have been out of options, but Garcia was by far the most effective arm out of there bullpen, and now his status is up in the air. Even if it is the lowly Marlins, you rarely see a team give up on their best reliever.

Garcia is still just 27 and under team control through 2024, beginning arbitration next season.  He came up as a starter and had an impressive run in this role for a short stretch during 2018. However, the team eventually moved him to the bullpen. Thus, Garcia could fill the two most significant holes in the Braves’ bullpen heading into 2020: an additional left-hander, and a guy who can provide long-relief appearances.

Garcia will not blow you away with his velocity; his fastball sits around 94 MPH. He relies on his offspeed stuff in his outings, primarily his slider, which he throws 42.6% of the time. Though not a big strikeout guy, this is by far his best swing and miss pitch, and his changeup was nearly impossible for righty hitters to put in play. Opponents hit just .107 against the offering in 2019. Overall, he held opposing batters to a 46.9% groundball rate — a valuable asset to have in any bullpen.

The Marlins will likely receive some trade interest in Garcia, and that could be the primary reason they designated him for assignment. If the Braves are in a position where they can claim him, it is a no-brainer. They can DFA Chad Sobotka to create a roster spot and fill out their bullpen.

However, if Garcia is available via trade, he may be worth acquiring for a low-end prospect. The Marlins have no leverage, and if the Braves claim him to work out a deal, it should cost next to nothing. I am a Grant Dayton believer, but if Sean Newcomb makes the rotation, the lefty reliever options on the roster are thin. Not only does he fill an obvious need for Atlanta, but he also pitched in the NL East the past few seasons, so he is familiar with the clubs the Braves have the majority of their contests against.

Though Atlanta projects to have one of the best bullpens in 2020, finding another lefty is crucial, even if it means scouring the non-roster invite market. Garcia is the type of young pitcher who could be worth a shot given his background, and he may excel outside of Miami.

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