General managers and other baseball operations executives, including Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, from the Cubs, will be meeting in Milwaukee this week to jumpstart their offseason discussions, most notably, with each other.

One of the things the various GMs will no doubt be discussing: the increasing cost in the closer market.

Despite a wide range of free agent closer options available this Winter, the Philadelphia Phillies recently decided to give Jonathan Papelbon the richest deal ever given to a reliever – four years and $50 million, with an option for a fifth year that will reportedly easily vest, making the deal worth $60 million.

And apparently, the huge contract demanded by Papelbon isn’t an aberration.

One of the teams most open about its need for a closer, the Toronto Blue Jays, has apparently been “shocked” at the amounts agents are asking for their closers this Winter. For that reason, and because the Jays have a “surplus of prospects,” GM Alex Anthopoulos admits his preferred route for acquiring a closer will be through trade.

And, as I’ve been saying for a week, the Cubs just so happen to have a “surplus” closer, whose two-year, $16.8 million contract suddenly looks mighty attractive – to the Blue Jays, and other teams.

Now, Phil Rogers says that the Cubs are expecting to be approached about Carlos Marmol, as soon as this week at the GM meetings. No doubt.

Marmol, 29, is coming off his worst season in half a decade, where a decrease in fastball velocity, an increase in slider velocity, and a suspected increase in – how to put it delicately? – butt fat conspired to tank Marmol’s effectiveness. Marmol had a 4.01 ERA and 1.378 WHIP in 74 innings, on route to 10 blown saves and an awful 77% save percentage.

Still, Marmol is one year removed from being one of the most consistently dominant relievers in baseball – and he played that role, if frustratingly, for five straight years. New Cubs management says that he’s just a tweak or two away from a return to that dominance, and, while that’s something you’d expect them to say, maybe it’s also true. After all, there was one other difference for Marmol in 2011: no Larry Rothschild. With a new pitching coach, and an offseason of study and adjustment, it’s not at all implausible that Marmol can come back as good as ever in 2012.

If that’s true, why would the Cubs want to trade Marmol? The back end of the bullpen is, perhaps, the only area of the Cubs’ roster where they could replace a player like Marmol internally. Whether it’s through a move of Sean Marshall to the 9th, or the return of Kerry Wood, or the emergence of someone like Andrew Cashner or Chris Carpenter as a closer, the Cubs can afford to move Marmol without a striking drop in overall team performance. The move would also free up some cash that could be put to work in the rotation, or at a corner spot in the infield.

Given that, and Marmol’s emerging value in a the current closer marketplace, let’s hope Theo and Jed do plenty of listening this week, assuming teams come to bend their ear about their “surplus prospects.”

  • hansman1982

    Well I think I just identified a market over-inefficiency-compensation-attention-notsurewhattocallit

    Looks like teams will start stocking up on late inning guys in the farm system, which I think is good considering the shelf life of most closers.

    I would LOVE to see them put Marshall in the closer role and lock him up to a nice 5-6 year contract extension, he is Rivera-lite in that he is consistant and wont blow but a midget’s handful of games.

    • CubFan Paul

      i like chris carpenter’s stuff as a closer. Marshall is nice, but he’s a better workhorse reliever than he would be a closer ..and Carpenter would be dirt cheap for years to come

      • JulioZuleta

        I still think there’s a good shot he gets shipped off to Boston. When is this going to end?

        • CubFan Paul

          I hope not. a $400K setup man or closer would be nice to have next year with or without Marmol ..and i don’t think the compensation price will be that ‘high’

      • dob2812

        Paul, Marshall is not nice. He has been the best reliever not named Mike Adams in the National League the past few years. The Cubs should be looking at what he might be able to do in the rotation, never mind the ninth inning spot. They should still look to move Marmol because Wood/Carpenter will still get the job done well enough (certainly as well as Marmol did it last year).

        • http://Bleachernation Bric

          Although not highly talked about, Marshall’s had chances at starter the last couple of years. Cracking the starter’s line up then might have been harder than it is now, but I gotta believe guys like Pinella, Rothschild, and Maddux wanted him in the bull pen not because that’s where they needed him most, but because that’s where he’s most effective and meant to be.

      • BetterNews

        Marshall would make way more sense as a closer should Marmol
        be dealt. Carpenter is a work in progress, to be sure.
        (6.28 ERA 1.82 WHIP at AAA Iowa) Those are not good mumbers.

        • BetterNews

          Also Carpenters name has come up in the compensation issue
          with the Sawx, so he might not even be around

          • BetterNews

            I also think you do’t deal Marmol because of last years performance.
            You deal him for for the sake of a great return.

  • Kyle

    Teams are looking at Marmol as a “buy low” candidate. His peripherals last year were pretty consistent with his career (outside of a retreat from his unsustainably awesome HR rates).

    But, as we’ve discussed, there’s got to be some concern about his arm. Slider-heavy pitchers are always big risks for injuries, and the loss in velocity next year is a big flashing red warning sign.

    So if and how much Hoystein is willing to trade Marmol for could be an interesting first look into what they do when stats and scouting clash.

    Edited to fix calling Marmol by the wrong name

    • CubFan Paul

      “buy low”??

  • Cheryl

    Marmol may have had just a bad year, according to some, but Ithink he’s lost the confidence of the cubs’ pitchers, especially Garza, and the cubs would be better off trading him.

  • Roland Perrelli

    Hoystein that is funny. Let us hope they can turn Marmol into a nice prospect or two. Then the money they save towards the Prince.

  • Ol’CharlieBrown

    First thing I thought when I saw that picture of Marmol is how he almost looks skinny compared to how he looked this past season.

    • Hawkeye

      He was so overweight last year.   He carried it all in the backend.  Zambrano actually looked more fit than Marmol.   Everytime I saw that back-end of Marmols, it made me think that he just sat around all off season after he got his big contract.

      • Katie

        Easy there, Hawkeye! I like my men with a little junk in the trunk! :)
        That being said, he needs to probably be traded to a non-NL team. Of course that means he will kick ass next year.

        • Jason

          As a man with junk in the trunk, I approve of Katie’s message.

        • Hawkeye

          Katie,  I am sure I am fine with some junk as well.  I am a guy, that types on the computer about the Cubs, I will probably see my fair share of junk it due time.

          That being said, Marmol’s truck was disporpotionately sized compared to the rest of his body.   At times, I was impressed he was able to stand there without falling over backwards.

          • Katie

            Ha! So true. It did look overly big compared to the rest of him.

  • JAndersonjr81

    I like marmol, but if we can free up cash, trade him. Just please save the cash for next year.
    I wouldn’t spent one dime on Pujols or fielder.

    • Kyle

      If the reports of Kemp’s extension are true, the FA list for 2013 looks mighty thin.

      • BD

        Which leads me to believe they will be in on one of those 1Bs to the end, and then it will depend on the price. It just takes one doofus to make the contract skyrocket. (see: Werth, Jayson)

        • Kyle

          Dead on. They will be in on both, but I don’t think they’ll be “all in.” They will pay, but they won’t get Texas/A-Roded.

    • JulioZuleta

      I’m starting to think they go after Fielder actually.

  • BD

    Any chance Marmol could go to Boston, since Papelbon is gone? I know that they have Bard, but either he could be seasoned a bit more, or Marmol could be forced back to his (optimal) 8th inning role.

    • Jason

      I doubt Cherington would take the risk – if Marmol implodes next year and takes the Sawx down with him, Boston fans will be looking for heads to roll.

  • Ashley

    I like Marmol and I feel when he is on he is one of the best in baseball, but when he is off he is a train wreck. That being said if he can sure up some money and we could possibly get a prospect or two or even a major league player for him I would make the deal. I know it would leave the Cubs without a dependable closer but lets be honest how many times when Marmol came in did we know for sure he was going to lock down the save. NOT MANY!!!

  • poopypants mcgee

    i never knew so many people paid attention to marmol’s butt. From the sound of things, it doesn’t look like Marmol did either.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    I think that if Atlanta is dangling Martin Prado’ the Cubs should definitely explore the opportunity of making a trade for him if Aramis is truly gone! Great glove and versatile! Prado at 3rd and Castro at SS great leftside of the infield

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    The Question is should the Cubs trade him this offseason or wait until the trading deadline where they could get a lot more if he returns to his 2010 numbers?

    • Brett

      That’s a risk, too – maybe he continues his march toward ineffectiveness, or worse, blows out his arm in April.

  • willis

    Yeah that’s too risky. If you have a decent offer on the table, you do it now. It’s a win-win…maybe get a couple of very good prospects and save some coin to filter back into the rotation or the Fielder Sweepstakes.

    And there are plenty of arms for the pen. Especially if Wood is brought back (which I am hoping is the case). Marmol could bring back value for sure. You got to listen.

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Brett… Any news at all regarding any signings for the Cubs?? I saw the Dodgers sign Kemp to an extension! Also how serious are the Cubs about the Cuban?? I see the Marlins are going hard of Reyes, Pujols, just a name a few! I hope Theo just doesn’t sit here and not make a play to at least make us competitive!! Just curious haven’t been on here for a few… Just getting the scoop


  •!/hurricaneswag26 Ryne Blaising

    I think its time to trade Marmol, the Rangers gave up two young starting pitchers for Mike Adams. so what would the Cubs get for Marmol? Also the Cubs are in rebuilding and what a great way to build up the farm system.

    • BetterNews

      Not sure by what you mean when you say great way to build up
      the farm system. Please explain.

      •!/hurricaneswag26 Ryne Blaising

        Sorry about that I was just trying to say it will help the Cubs long term to trade someone like Marmol for two young olayers that can help the team in 2-3 years. Marmol is a great closer and he is someone you dont want to trade, but he isnt what is going to take the Cubs over the top. So I think you should trade him for young players ie like the Rays did with Garza, but of course the Cubs will not get that much for Marmol.