Hard-throwing closer Carlos Marmol was almost traded earlier this winter and it appears once again that the right-hander might be on the move, potentially before the regular season begins in about three weeks. The Cubs appear intent on moving him, given the amount of interest around the league, according to ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine. Sources have told Levine that numerous teams, including the Detroit Tigers, have had scouts in attendance recently to take a look at Marmol.
Chicago had a deal in place to ship Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren in early November. The Cubs medical staff was hesitant to sign off on Haren’s physical due to some concerns with his back, ultimately causing the deal to fall apart. Haren would end up reaching free agency and signing with the Washington Nationals. There have not been any further serious discussions about dealing Marmol, however. Until now.
Marmol made 30 appearances for the Cubs this past season, posting a 3.42 ERA and 1.536 WHIP over 55.1 IP on the year. His season was the tale of two pitchers, however. Marmol posted a 5.61 ERA in the season’s first half. After the All Star Break he was convinced to use his two-seam fastball more often, resulting in a big turnaround that resulted in a 1.52 ERA in the second half. The rebound was significant, but it seems apparent that the 30 year old no longer fits into the Cubs plans long term. Levine speculates that the Cubs could look to acquire young pitching in any deal to move Marmol, who can reportedly block a deal to four West Coast teams. He’s slated to earn just short of $10 Million this year and will be a free agent at season’s end.
Of course, shortly after Levine’s article came out others in the Chicago media, including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times, refuted it:
Nothing to reports of trade interest for Marmol, esp. w/ Detroit. Cubs don’t expect to move him till after season starts. Prob at deadline.
— Gordon Wittenmyer (@GDubCub) March 6, 2013
Chicago has a number of options they can look to here, but it seems fairly certain that Marmol will be moved at some point – if not now, then likely before the July trade deadline. His future is not with the Cubs beyond this season so there’s every reason for the organization to try and get something in return for him. Keep in mind, however, that between his pending salary and the fact that he’s merely a rental (unless the team that acquires him promptly signs him to an extension – an unlikely scenario) the Cubs aren’t going to get much in return when a deal does get completed. No opposing team could justify paying a steep price at this point in time.
Kyuji Fujikawa, who the Cubs signed to a two year deal this offseason, is presumably the favorite to take over the closer’s role should the Cubs complete a deal. Fujikawa saved 220 games in his career in Japan before signing with Chicago.