Rumors are bountiful over the past few days that the Chicago Cubs are inching towards sending backsliding closer Carlos Marmol to the Detroit Tigers for a yet-to-be-named player. It’s obvious, however, who Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein covet:
On several planes, a trade between the two teams — whether it’s a straight-up one-for-one swap, or a more complex deal which includes other moving parts — provides equivalent value given circumstances and the 2013 outlook for both squads.
After a 2012 season that culminated in an 88-74 regular season finish and a sweep by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the Tigers have their eyes on another strong run in 2013. With a stacked pitching rotation consisting of some of the best, young, live arms in the game with Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister among the starting four, finding a fifth starter to fill in the back-end certainly isn’t a task.
That fifth starter as things stand is Rick Porcello.
What the Tigers enjoy in stability among the rotation, they lack in stability in the bullpen. With the departure of Jose Valverde — the team’s enigmatic 2012 closer — and the early Spring struggles of his heir apparent, Bruce Rondon, the Tigers need an established presence in the pen to ensure late game closure.
While he’s on a semi-backslide after control and attitude issues over the past few seasons, there’s no reason Carlos Marmol couldn’t be this guy. It’s reasonably arguable that a change of scenery could in fact be all that’s really missing between Jim Leyland and the Tigers getting the fiesty but focused Marmol, and the wild and scattered Marmol which the Cubs got for most of 2012.
In obtaining Porcello, the Cubs bolster an already shaky starting rotation which will nominally be led by No. 1 starter Jeff Samardzija, and may be without Matt Garza for most of the first third of the season. While Porcello is a No. 4 at best, in this incarnation of the Cubs rotation he could in fact be a No. 3.
When times are hard, you have to take what is available.
The question lies in whether the Tigers are concerned enough about their closer situation — and truly don’t think that Rondon can get it done — this early in the 2013 campaign, that they would be willing to pull the trigger on a Marmol deal.
The Cubs should certainly hope so, given the value Marmol would demand on the open market is higher before he ever throws a pitch in a 2013 regular season game. After that point, all bets are off, and any assumption of earning high value closer to the trade deadline goes out the window.
Do the Cubs and Tigers brass see the equivalent value that lies on the surface in a Porcello / Marmol swap?
We should find out soon.