Why the Chicago Cubs Won the Carlos Marmol-Dan Haren Trade

By Cody Swartz
Howard Smith – US PRESSWIRE

The Chicago Cubs have traded hard-throwing relief pitcher Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for starting pitcher Dan Haren, according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

Each pitcher had one year remaining on his current deal – Marmol for $9.8 million and Haren for a team option of $15.5 million.

While the Angels got themselves a fine relief pitcher in Marmol, the Cubs win this one by getting a quality right-handed pitcher in Haren. Haren was 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA last year for the Angels and 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA the year before.

When he was with the National League’s Arizona Diamondbacks back in 2008, 2009, and the first half of 2010, Haren was marvelous – he posted a 37-26 record, 3.56 ERA, and outstanding 5.33 strikeout to walk ratio that rivals the numbers of Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay.

Haren was even a very good pitcher for the Angels, going 33-27 with a 3.52 ERA in a tougher-hitting American League.

He’s still just 32 years old and he’s been remarkably durable during his career, making at least 30 starts for each of the last eight years and averaging 33 during that span. Haren is a three-time All-Star, he’s earned Cy Young votes twice, and he displays remarkable control, as evident by his career 4.01 strikeout to walk ratio.

Marmol was a top relief pitcher back in 2010, leading the league in games pitched (70), registering a 2.55 ERA, and posting a 16.0 strikeout rate that ranks among the best in major league history. His numbers digressed to the tune of a 4.01 ERA and 12.0 K/9 rate in 2011, and he was at 3.42 and a 11.7 K/9 rate in 2012.

His control has always been a major problem, and his 6.0 career walk rate is downright scary. Last year, that figure ballooned to 7.3 per nine innings, to the point that the Cubs couldn’t trust him to close ballgames.

Marmol saved 38 of 43 games in 2010, 34 of 44 games in 2011, and 20 of 23 games in 2012. That’s 18 blown saves during a three-year span, a figure that in no way represents an elite closer.

The Angels had struggles with their closer (Ernesto Frieri) in 2012, as he started the year pitching lights out and regressed down the stretch. And they probably wouldn’t have been able to re-sign Haren after 2013.

But now they’re down two starting pitchers, after having traded away Ervin Santana earlier in the week. They have Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, and they’re obviously going all-in for Zack Greinke if they traded away Haren.

What they get though is an inconsistent closer who can’t be trusted to pitch the ninth inning of games. And they’re on the books for nearly $10 million in 2013, or a million for about every five to six innings Marmol pitches.

The Cubs probably won’t compete in the NL Central even with Haren. After all, they did lose 101 games in 2012.

But they got Marmol off their payroll, and they add an underrated starting pitcher that has seen his best work in the NL. If Haren pitches well in 2013, they’re likely to be in the hunt to re-sign him for 2014 and beyond.

And if the Cubs don’t want to re-sign him, they could trade him to a contender and add some younger talent to their core.

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