Red Sox deal shows trading Marmol for upside won't be easy

Red Sox deal shows trading Marmol for upside won't be easy

Joel Hanrahan. 31, and Carlos Marmol, 30, are comparable pitchers.  Both have a power repertoire and strike hitters out with regularity -- but both walk a ton of hitters.  Hanrahan was over 5 walks per 9 IP.  Marmol was over seven.

Marmol is paid a bit more, but we know that really isn't a factor since the Cubs can take the salary portion of the deal out of the equation if they choose.

The problem is just dealing a relief pitcher who has little value to a bad team while his inconsistency finding the plate makes it risky for a win-now team to entrust him with the closer's role.

The same could be said of Hanrahan and we can get a quick look at the return here and see what Marmol can potentially bring to the Cubs.

The Pirates received:

  • Jerry Sands (OF-1B):  Put up nice minor league numbers and  is a solid athlete who nevertheless projects best at 1B, defensively.  He's a good hitter, but bat speed has always been a concern as to whether it translates to the big leagues.  If he's at 1B, he would have no value to a team like the Cubs and his so-so defense and good but not great hitting potential makes him an average starter at best in LF.
  • Stolmy Pimentel (RHP): A pitcher who can throw about 94-96 mph is enticing in terms of upside but Pimentel has yet to miss a whole lot of bats since reaching the AA level.  His first season there was a disaster (0-9, 9.12 ERA) and his second season was better but nothing to scream about.  He put up a 4.59 ERA (3.87 FIP) while putting up a strikeout/walk ratio of 6.69/3.27 per 9 IP.  Perhaps the highest ceiling on this list, but his likelihood of reaching it isn't all that high.  His breaking stuff has improved and the hope is that he winds up being a mid-rotation starter, but honestly, if he winds up being a solid reliever, I'd say the Pirates would be pretty pleased.
  • Ivan DeJesus, Jr. (IF): DeJesus is a utility player who gives you decent, but not great defense and a questionable bat.  The Cubs just picked up a couple of similar players in Edwin Maysonet and Alberto Gonzalez on minor league deals.
  • Mark Melancon (RP):  A good RP from Houston who closed some games there but had a disastrous season in Boston.  He has decent stuff but is probably maxed out as a 7th or 8th inning guy.  I think he'll rebound and he and Grilli could provide a useful late inning tandem, but it's a stretch to say he's much of a difference-maker.

Take note also that the Pirates also sent the Red Sox 24 year old 2B Brock Holt, and while he may only be a utility player, he's a better one than DeJesus and may end up as a starter sometime in his career.

This is not to say it was a bad deal for the Pirates, but if the Cubs were to get a similar return for Marmol and a young player with starter potential, I'd probably shrug my shoulders.  I don't think this is the kind of deal that either would help much in the present, nor would it give them impact talent for the future.  It just speaks to how difficult it is to get upside in return for a shaky closer these days.  The Pirates did well to get some useful players with cost control, but the bigger market Cubs don't have as big a pressing need to get that type of low cost/modest impact value in return.

That said, it's hard to say whether the Cubs would structure a deal in the same way.  My guess is they would prefer to reduce quantity in favor of quality.  That is, get themselves one prospect, perhaps two, with a better chance of making an impact.

However, if they are receiving similar offers, then I prefer they hang on to Marmol and see if he can build on his second half next season.  Maybe by then that a team has a desperate need for a closer and will be willing to overpay.

I think the downside to waiting is low here. The Cubs can probably get similar value by holding on to Marmol and trading him at the deadline.  The one wildcard in play is that dealing Marmol now, even if it's less than an exciting return, gives the Cubs an opportunity to try a different closer (i.e. Kyuji Fujikawa), add value to that player, and then pick up additional young talent in a separate trade down the road.


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  • Despite Marmol's recent lapses, he still has shut down stuff. I don't think they should trade him at all right now. Despite what many think, Theo and Jed are trying to compete this next year.

    In fact, I can't remember the starting staff, bullpen, and defense look this good in quite some time. For once, we have a duo that is going to try to win it with pitching and defense.

    Nobody has stuff like Marmol when he is on his game. I hope they wait until the trade deadline.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    The team does look interesting from a pitching and defense standpoint. It wouldn't surprise me if they did hold on to him and see how the first half plays out with both Marmol and the team. Like you said, though, they'll almost certainly trade him by the deadline (if not before). It's just a matter of when, not if.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    Let me add to this....if my numbers are correct, we can see the Cubs as one of the most improved teams in 2013......Marmol has at least several teammates now that can keep the games in the Cubs corner in the 7th & 8th innings.......the min number is 18 more wins...the max is at 28 more victories......the higher number is based on a full year of Garza and a healthy more Volstad, Coleman, Lopez, Hermano or guy who has to step up his game is Wood....there are 46 loses that came from pitchers who are gone or will be on a Cubs farm team in 2013.......if we improved just 50%, that is 23 more victories......get one or two hot pitchers to get in a groove, we might see "magic" happen........who knows, Reds & Dusty could fall apart, which I predict......Cardinals are due for an off season......Milwaukee's time has passed....Pirates had Cubs number in the last two seasons, so I guess that time has come to an I know some of you will talk about our hitting.......and how it sucks....well, Rizzo should hit 25 us HR's......Stewart could hit 20......but HR's does not mean victories....getting people on base does......a walk is good as a hit.....we need people on bases & timely hits more than swinging for the fences.........leaders in the clubhouse are DeJesus, Soriano and Garza.......Samardzija is one year smarter in pitching............stay away from injuries and play fundamental baseball, and great things can happen.

    88 wins can get you a Wild Card spot.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I like the optimism. Here's hoping a lot of that stuff comes to pass!

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    I completely agree with everyone of your thoughts. I can't see how they wouldn't surprise. But,let me add to your thoughts if you will. The 2013 season will be one that shows everyone that playing for the Cubs will be the place to be. There will not be a baseball player that does not want to be here because it's coming. Who would not to be on the team that finally does it?

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Yes sir!! This is like Blackhawks in 2007-08. Great young core, growing and building. Really looking forward young Cubs developing into perennial all stars. And it really starts this year. Even if we don't make the playoffs this year, we will at least contend for sure. Watch. It's gonna be a very fun year.

    Let's Go Cubs!

  • I agree that the Cubs should trade Marmol for quality not quantity, but do it sooner rather than later. We have brought in lots of pitchers of various past success, but the common bond is that they all throw strikes. Is this town big enough for this front office and Marmol.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Agreed. If they get an offer for quality now they shouldn't hesitate.

  • theo and jed are most likely willing to throw whatever money it takes/makes sense to complete a trade sending marmol somewhere else. during the draft they took a lot of risks on high upside guys coming off of injuries, and i think if they were to trade marmol thats what they should be targeting, guys who wont need to go on the 40-man that are coming off injuries that have some reasonable upside. i dont think were gonna get any allstars from a marmol trade return, but if we could get 2 guys like barret loux who have the upside of a middle of the rotation starter, then im doing it in a heartbeat.

    i also agree that the cubs should go quality over quantity, however if the pirates were in the cubs situation and were making this trade to boston, i wouldve gotten a third team involved who i could flip melancon and sands to for a better prospect.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Middle of rotation upside works for me if they are somewhat likely to reach it. Pimentel has middle of the rotation upside, but he's not likely to reach it. Loux has middle of the rotation upside, but he's more likely to be a 4 or 5. Danny Hultzen has middle of the rotation upside but he's far too much for someone like Marmol, mostly because he has a good chance of getting there. I suppose someone like Loux is most likely, and agreed Cubs should get one other similar player.

    Not sure what team will give you a good prospect for Melancon and Sands. I'd be pretty upset if the Cubs gave up a top 10 guy for that package, so I wouldn't expect most teams to do it either.

  • If the Cubs can lower their payroll in a trade involving Marmol, along with getting a "prospect" or two in return, that would be a benefit.

  • I'm not as worried about the payroll as the player they get back. Marmol will be gone next year and whether they pay him 10M to stay here or 8M to leave doesn't make much difference to me.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My point was that any money the Cubs might save in a trade of Marmol could be used elsewhere.

  • True. Anything they can reallocate to greater needs helps.

  • Another theory is if Marmol is good enough, you still could hang on get a draft pick as compensation. However, you can never have enough relievers. But I think if Theo has the chance to pick up 2-3 players, depending if they are arms or corner OFer, he will trade Marmol. However, in reality, the Cubs are not that far away from a playoff spot if they can be .500 at the all-star break. 6-8 wins above .500 could get you a wildcard.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    The thing that would worry me is that nothing would come of it if they offered him the qualifying amount (assuming he turns it down). Soriano is a better closer and nobody wants to give up compensation for him. He's still a FA and it seems nobody is even close to signing him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Yea, I believe someone will def end up signing Soriano, just not at the price/years he wants.

    The problem comes offering Marmol arbitration and him accepting it.

    Do you know if the player declines the arbitration and he can't find a deal he likes, can he come back to his original team on the 1 yr deal??

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Soriano is better than Marmol, though. But I guess if Marmol has a good enough year to even think about paying him 12-13M then maybe some team will want to sign him for some amount and lose the pick.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    No. Once the player is offered the 1 year contract at the qualifying amount and declines it, the team no longer has to have it on the table. So the Yankees can just tell Soriano,"We're not interested."

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    In reply to TulaneCubs:

    Thank you very much for that explanation.

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    Great article as usual John.

    This is a prime example of why they Cubs were stupid to not role the dice on Dan Haren. I know his medicals were not what they likes, but they were enough for the Nationals. I think a solid 1h of Dan Haren would being much much better return then Marmol now or even if he has a great ( for him) 1H.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Thanks. I think you have to trust your med staff. Haren could get hurt, could regress, or he could stay around the same but the meds continue to look worse...anyone of those scenarios would hurt his stock.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We'll see if he's able to break the Nats starting rotation and maybe make a handful of starts this year. I think the Nats doctors are pretty decent, maybe even almost as good as Jedstein's. They seemed to do a decent job after Strasburg and Zimmerman blew there elbows out, as both of them came back close to the same if not better. ( Better IMO)

    Never hope an injury on someone, but if Haren's doesn't make 10 starts in the 1H of the season, I will chalk one up to the "brilliant med staff"

    That trade goes thru, we prob have a real hitter signed as this team is def in the hunt to start 2013

  • I was a bit bummed by this trade. If it serves as a template for a Marmol deal it's not too promising. The fact that we'd go for more quality than quantity still gives me hope though.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    I have to think that is the case. At least I hope so. I'd rather get one or two guys with some impact potential than 4 guys who look like they'll be role players.

  • I think what some might be missing here is that the Cubs are not in a position to have to deal Marmol.

    Add in the fact that he had a very strong last 3 months (32.2 IP, 23 H, 20 BB, 44K's, 1.31 WHIP, 2.20 ERA) which could be a sign that he has things figured out, I think the FO could be playing this smart by waiting for a better deal.

    If that means you wait until July, then so be it. We don't have to dump the contract, there is plenty of $$ in the cofers. Wait for someone to get desperate and then make the deal from a position of strength.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    They certainly don't have to, I agree. And they shouldn't unless they think it's going to improve the team. As far as I'm concerned, if they're not getting that kind of offer, then his value is zero -- and they shouldn't deal him. It can only go up.

  • I'll bet it will get a lot easier to trade Marmol for a nice prospect once a contender's closer goes down. This isn't the time of year to even try.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I agree completely. The market has been set now when nobody is desperate. When injuries happen sometimes GM's panic--it will never happen again, because it was one of the worst trades ever, but don't forget the Karchner for Garland trade

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I agree. Especially if Marmol builds on his 2nd half last year.

  • It is hard to imagine what kind of year Marmol could have to cause the Cubs to offer him 13 million per year.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    Yeah...I agree there. He'd have to be better than the 2010 Marmol -- and even then I don't think the Cubs would do it unless they were reasonably certain he'd turn it down.

  • I don't follow salaries closely, so I really have no idea what top closers can make. Does anyone know the top three salaries for closers. I know that Rivera gets a little less than 15 million, but are there any others out there making more than 13 million?

    In the case of both Soriano and Marmol, I would prefer if the Cubs would pick up EVERY dollar of the salary. Why ask the receiving team to pay 5 million per year?, and take a lesser prospect in return.

    What is the most we could hope for in return for Marmol? I suspect that if we got a Christian Vallenueva, we should be extremely happy.

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