It's no secret the Cubs would like to move Carlos Marmol. They almost dealt him to the Angels this past offseason in exchange for RHP Daren Haren. It's also no secret that Cubs fans are becoming increasingly frustrated with his inability to throw strikes.
It would seem the biggest argument for leaving him in that role is to increase his value. Closers tend to have higher trade value on the open market and if the Cubs remove him from that role, his value would all but disappear. Other than his strikeout numbers (11.71 Ks/9IP), there is nothing special about Marmol. His FIP (3.94) is ordinary and last year, despite some successes last season, he was barely above replacement level (0.2 WAR). It's unlikely he's going to improve his control. His walk rate per 9 innings since 2009 have been 7.91, 6.03, 5.84, and 7.32. Does he really have much trade value even if he does stay as a closer?
The flip side is that there is little to no point in trading him if you aren't going to get value in return. The Cubs won't get salary relief (not that they need it), nor are they likely to get a good prospect right now. So why not keep him on the chance that he recaptures some of his old magic? He certainly still has the arm strength and it only takes one impressed GM in need of a closer to make a deal. Why not hold on to him and keep him in the closer role? Replacing him would mean putting an unproven closer in Kyuji Fujikawa and replacing Marmol on the roster with a middle reliever, likely someone like Cory Wade. Is it worth it?
The Cubs tinkered with Marmol's approach last year and had him use his good fastball (average 94 mph, peak 97) to set up his occasionally devastating slider. It appears to have worked. Marmol put up a 1.52 ERA (2.72 FIP) in the second half. He cut his walks down to 5.15/9 IP while maintaining a high strikeout rate. In fact, his strikeout % increased from 26% to 32%, which is about what it was in his heyday.
Understandably, teams are still skeptical and yesterday's performance only confirms the fears teams have about using Marmol as a closer. His lack of control got him into trouble and the Cubs were lucky that Jeff Samardzija's brilliant 8 inning performance assured them of having plenty of backup options left in the bullpen. They may not always have that luxury.
It was just one bad outing but it illustrates the fact that Marmol still needs to prove that the adjustments he made last year will have a more long term effect -- and even then it's likely a team will feel they are taking a big chance if they give up a good prospect to obtain him. For the Cubs, however, the potential of picking up any long term asset may be worth sticking with Marmol a bit longer.