Ever since the Chicago Cubs signed Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, the fate of 2012 closer Carlos Marmol has been a topic of rampant speculation. Marmol is still a Cub, but that situation may not hold for much longer.
According to ESPN, the trade market for Marmol is a solid one, with the Detroit Tigers among multiple teams who have expressed interest. Marmol has a limited no-trade clause, but it’s expected that he would waive even that with the provision that he was heading to a contending team.
In fact, a potential trade is apparently close enough that the righthander may not make it to the end of spring training in a Chicago uniform.
It’s no secret that the Cubs are looking to increase financial flexibility and add long-term prospects. Dealing Marmol and his not-quite-$10 million contract—assuming they can get a reasonable package for him—would serve both purposes admirably.
Marmol’s trade value is never going to be higher than it is right now. He’s coming off a stellar second half in 2012, but his chances of maintaining that level of play this season are slim.
Marmol, like so many closers, has battled his own confidence as much as opposing hitters. The mere presence of Japanese veteran Fujikawa on the roster (regardless of how Dale Sveum chooses to use the two relievers) is a good bet to get into Marmol’s head and undermine the great run he had to close last season.
If the Cubs can make a deal before Marmol has the chance to implode, they have a great opportunity to get legitimate prospects on the strength of his 1.52 ERA after last year’s All-Star break. The abortive attempt to trade for Dan Haren (quashed by Haren’s own injury problems) shows just how high Marmol’s trade value might be to the right team.
The Tigers could certainly be the right team on that score, particularly because they lost closer Jose Valverde and are depending on rookie Bruce Rondon as their ninth-inning man.
One possibility raised by ESPN would have the Cubs acquiring righthanded starter Rick Porcello from Detroit in a putative Marmol deal. If Chicago can make such a move at anything resembling a reasonable price, it’s a possibility worth jumping at.
Porcello hasn’t been sensational in four seasons in Detroit, but he’s given the Tigers at least 27 starts every year with ERAs as low as 3.96. Most importantly, he won’t even turn 25 until December, so he has a lot of good years ahead of him.
Whether Porcello comes to Wrigley Field or not, though, trading Marmol should bring in some young player worth having. That’s a move with very little downside, given the steep odds against the Cubs getting a full season of strong pitching from their volatile (and likely soon-to-be-ex-)closer.