Things haven’t gone as planned for the Chicago Cubs this year, a story that the team’s long-suffering fanbase has likely grown tired of seeing unfold year after year. Few would have expected the team to suddenly compete this season, but even fewer would have predicted a collapse this colossal. Moves are clearly coming to the team’s roster in the coming weeks. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and the rest of the team’s front office will trade off whatever pieces they can in order to help expedite a rebuild.
The Cubs took a first step towards beginning that process late Tuesday morning, designating right-hander Carlos Marmol for assignment. They also finally resolved their issues with Ian Stewart, granting the third baseman his release from Triple-A Iowa. Outfielder Brian Bogusevic was recalled to take Marmol’s place on the active roster.
Marmol has seen a fall from grace in Chicago just as quick as his ascension into the team’s closer role. Primarily an outfielder upon signing with the Cubs as an amateur free agent, Marmol was converted into a pitcher before the conclusion of his second professional season. He’d start throughout most of his minor league career and took the mound to begin 13 games during his rookie season of 2006. That next year he’d join the Cubs’ bullpen, proving to be a highly valuable option late in games over the subsequent two seasons before assuming the closer role towards the end of 2009. He’d save 38 games in 2010, earning him a three year contract worth $20 Million from the Cubs before the start of the 2011 season. Things went downhill from there, leading to the team’s efforts to move Marmol this past winter before backing out of an agreed upon deal at the last minute (concerns about Dan Haren’s back led to the deal with the Los Angeles Angels falling through).
In 31 appearances this year Marmol has a 5.86 ERA and 1.699 WHIP over 27.2 IP. He began the year as the team’s closer, but would last only three appearances before being removed from the role. Now the team will eat roughly $5 Million that remains on his contract just to see Marmol walk away.
Marmol isn’t the only former closer to receive his walking papers in the past week, as the Detroit Tigers also DFA’d Jose Valverde late last week. The pair have both largely underperformed for the past season-plus and now will face plenty of questions once they officially hit the open market. Unlike Valverde, however, Marmol is still young enough (he won’t turn 31 until October) that another organization just might be willing to take a chance that he can figure things out – at least enough to be an option in middle relief. It’s highly possible a team waits until the offseason to try and bring him aboard, likely on nothing more than a non-guaranteed minor league deal. An informal poll on Twitter this afternoon questioned which of the pair might find work first, with a resounding response in favor of Marmol. Many – particularly many Tigers’ fans – don’t think Valverde throws another pitch in the Major Leagues again.
As for Stewart, his fate has been expected since early this month. A public tirade on Twitter in which he accused the organization of “letting him rot” at Triple-A ultimately led to the team suspending him without pay, a pre-cursor to their decision to let him go. Once he’d made his comments it became clear that his future in Chicago was tenuous at best and it was merely a matter of time before the two sides would part ways. Chicago had non-tendered Stewart last winter before re-signing him to a one year, $2 Million deal. He hit just .168/.286/.372 in 134 PA at Triple-A on the year, likely explaining why there was no rush on the team’s part to bring him up to Chicago – the final reason behind much of his frustration.