Let’s forget about the unnecessary and annoying abuse allegations for a moment and focus on baseball.
Across seven seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Carlos Marmol has been the most consistent option out of the team’s bullpen. Whether you’re a fan of the fireballer or you cringe every time you see him come in with a tight lead in the ninth inning, you cannot deny his ability to make opposing hitters look flat out silly. When Marmol is at his best, few closers in the MLB are as dominant, but when he struggles to find the zone it can be extremely frustrating. With the 2013 season rapidly approaching, the 30-year-old right hander could be the next Cub to be dealt, and it could be sooner than later.
Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer says the team was looking at right now is the team that will begin the season in Spring Training, but for me, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Marmol traded before opening day. After finishing 2012 very strong, his value may be higher right now than it will ever be this season, and I don’t exactly see a need for a veteran closer on a Cubs team that is predicted to win less than 80 games, so why not test the waters a little bit more and see what can be received in return for his skills. Marmol missed a substantial portion of the 2012 season, however, injuries have never been of serious concern for the righty, so I don’t see other teams shying away for that reason. On top of that, he’s just 30 and could have many years left in his bazooka of an arm.
There was a deal in place at the beginning of the off-season that would have sent Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for starter Dan Haren, but the swap fell through because the Cubs front office was concerned about Haren’s health. So we know the Angels were willing to make the move, and were willing to part ways with an established veteran starter in order to complete the deal, so why haven’t other teams come knocking on the door for Marmol? He holds a career 3.38 ERA and an average of 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and he’s appeared in 75 or more games four out of the last five years.
The major concern for the entirety of Marmol’s career up to this point has been control, as he’s averaged six walks per every nine innings pitched. If you’ve observed Marmol over the years, he tends to get into trouble when he overthrows, trying to get too much movement on his slider or too much gas behind his fastball.
His competitiveness is without a doubt his most desirable quality, which makes me wonder how much of his heart will be in it for another losing season. His contract is up after this year, so teams know he’s going to be looking for another rewarding deal come November, and if put in the right situation, he could be the Marmol that Cubs fans saw in 2010 when he saved 38 games and set a new MLB record with 16 strikeouts per nine innings. Teams that look to contend in 2013, like the Angels, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Yankees and Milwaukee Brewers, whom are all in need of bullpen help, could wind up as a possible landing place for Marmol as the season draws nearer and teams become more desperate.
For an organization that claims to be putting the “rebuilding process” above all other procedures, the Cubs could likely receive a formidable, high-upside prospect or two in return for Marmol. If that is the case, I can’t see any reason to not pull the trigger on parting ways with him, especially if it brings any value whatsoever to the system. So don’t be too shocked if come April or May, newly acquired Kyuji Fujikawa is taking the mound in the ninth inning in place of Marmol.