Bruce Levine had his chat today and you can check it out here. Bruce is a little old school, so I differ with him on quite a few things in this chat, such as the importance of RBI or having Tony Campana's speed on the roster over Dave Sappelt's RH bat. But one of his opinions got my attention...
Marmol should be gone before opening day. He's been a tremendously durable reliever and someone will give the Cubs what they want in return.
This makes a lot of sense for a number of reasons. The first is that the Cubs aren't going to keep Marmol beyond this season anyway. The second is that the front office has stated a goal to create long term value through the closer role. This, of course, means trading a piece like Marmol for players who figure to contribute beyond this season. It also means giving opportunities for pitchers like Kyuji Fujikawa to step into larger roles and also to create opportunities for possible future closers such as Tony Zych or perhaps Arodys Vizcaino if he doesn't stick as a starting pitcher.
That part of it wasn't a surprise to me. One of my own sources told me as early as last season (after the deadline passed) that Marmol will likely be the next big name traded. The part that got my attention today in the chat was that he would be gone before opening day.
If both Scott Baker and Matt Garza are ready to go when the bell rings, then the Cubs bullpen should be pretty deep. Other than Carlos Marmol, the following pitchers are locks to make the team:
- RHP Kyuji Fujikawa
- RHP Shawn Camp
- LHP James Russell
- RHP Carlos Villanueva
- RHP Scott Feldman
Furthermore, RHP Michael Bowden is out of options and barring a deal of some sot, he's expected to make the team as well. It seems likely too that the Cubs would also like to keep Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon if at all possible. If everyone is healthy by the end of spring, that's 8 bullpen arms. It's one too many. And we haven't even yet considered the possibility that the Cubs may want to add a 2nd LHP such as Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin, or non-roster invite Hisanori Takahashi.
With too many arms and the Cubs looking to add long term value, it would seem Marmol could indeed be the odd man out. In a side note, it is interesting to note that when Fujikawa was acquired, GM Jed Hoyersaid at the time that Marmol would remain the team's closer heading into spring training.
Adding to the possibility is the fact that, other than James Russell, he's the only pitcher on the list that could potentially bring back something useful to aid in the Cubs rebuilding efforts. Unlike Russell, however, Marmol is strictly a short term player for the Cubs.
Marmol appears to have regained some value despite persistent control issues. A change in his approach and an uptick in velocity, which was often at 94-96 and peaked at 97 mph, has scouts thinking he can still dominate when he commands his potent fastball/slider combination. While he'll never be a strike throwing machine, Marmol did nearly double his K/BB ratio in the second half to 2.29. He was able to cut his walk ratio from 9.82 to 5.16 per 9 IP while simultaneously improving his strikeout ratio to almost 12Ks per 9IP. It's still not ideal, but teams can better accept the walk totals, as long as they know he can continue to miss bats with that type of regularity. There is still some value there considering his relative youth (30 yrs old), arm strength and durability.
As to what the return might be, Levine thought pitching was the most likely target, while a 3B would be "1A".
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