According to multiple sources, the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds are in deep discussions about a deal that would send lefty reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Travis Wood and prospects.

Both Bruce Levine and Ken Rosenthal reported the talks a few hours ago, and a team source just confirmed it to me. I’m told the talks are quite serious, and a deal could even be announced as early as today.

It was just yesterday that the prospect of trading Sean Marshall – something that’s been lightly suggested for a while – became a cold possibility. Having missed out on Yu Darvish, it was conceivable that the Cubs would move toward a more “sell” mentality, and it’s possible that we’re now seeing that happen with Marshall as the first piece.

Marshall, as discussed yesterday, is a free agent after this year, in which he’ll make just over $3 million. For one of the clear best relievers in the game, he’s a bargain. That he should net the Cubs a very good return goes without saying. And, to be fair, given his role and contract situation, trading him doesn’t necessary signal an imminent dive bomb into the 2012 season.

As for the return on Marshall, Wood makes an interesting centerpiece. A lefty with just one year of service time, Wood debuted in 2010, and put up a 116 ERA+ in a half season at age 23. He had a 3.51 ERA and a strikingly good 1.081 WHIP that year, with a 3.31 K/BB ratio. He couldn’t keep it up in 2011, though. In another half year, his ERA ballooned to 4.84, his WHIP to 1.491, his walk rate went up, and his K rate went down. The Reds’ trade for Mat Latos this weekend made Wood expendable, if he was even going to crack the rotation at all in 2012.

Drafted by the Reds in 2005 in the second round out of high school, Wood, who will turn 25 in February, was a consistently good minor league pitcher as he worked his way through the Reds’ system. Until his 2011 hiccup – not only did he regress in his time in the big leagues, he struggled at AAA – Wood had the look of the kind of pitching prospect you’d be thrilled to get for Sean Marshall. In that regard, he certainly makes sense as a “buy low” candidate for Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. The kind of player they say they like to target.

Bruce Levine says the Cubs would also be getting prospects for Marshall, but, despite Marshall’s superiority as a reliever, I have a hard time seeing the Cubs getting top prospects in addition to a young, lefty starter who has had success at the big league level, and who isn’t even arbitration-eligible until 2014. Perhaps they could get a couple decent, high upside kids – ones they could include in a deal to the Padres for Anthony Rizzo, perhaps? – but I don’t think we’d see the Cubs taking anyone from the Reds’ top ten prospect list.

Obviously we’ll have more on this as it develops, which, again, could be as soon as later today. The Cubs will presumably be making a number of calls to other teams – if they haven’t already – to tell them that this is their last chance to make a knockout offer for Marshall.

When calculating Marshall’s value, don’t forget: if he’s on the same team for all of 2012, and then leaves via free agency (after an offer of a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries in the game (about $12 million), which he might decline), he will net his team two high draft picks.

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  • pakman23

    Can we have Mike Leake instead?! Please and thank you.

    • Brett

      Maybe we could steal him.

      • North Side Irish

        Had the same thought, but I didn’t want to do it. But I’m glad someone did.

  • Erik

    I am a small fish in a small pond, I realize that Theo and the rest of the gang could care less about my post and whether or not the trade to go through. In looking at this trade, we need to look at what we have in the bullpen now.

    If we look at the bullpen and who would replace Marshall as a stopper/setup/part time closer, I doubt we could be anywhere close to where he has been. Here are the stats of the bullpen:

    Player ERA K BB HR WHIP
    Marshall 2.26 79 17 1 1.10

    Jeff S 2.97 87 50 5 1.30
    James R 4.12 43 14 12 1.33
    Marcus M 4.20 25 10 2 1.48
    John Ga. 6.75 3 2 0 1.5
    Rafael D – – – – –

    Now, looking at those stats we don’t have anyone who could replace him coming up? Wood will probably retire, and our bullpen looks as if they place the ball on the tee for the hitters.

    I think many of us should give thanks to the 2010 season, because it will be a long time before even come close to the 71 wins we had. We actually have a worse backup catcher than Hill, we don’t have anyone who can hit past the infield on a consistent basis, our starting 3d baseman was a backup on a sub-.500 team, our starting pitching has a 4.+ ERA.

    We were clamoring for Theo to turn the team around, but in essence we have gone backwards. I for one, thought last year was to be a rebuilding year, but 2012 seems to be one of those years where instead of wondering if the cubs lost, we will be asking ourselves, how bad was the loss? I understand Theo wants to contend for “many years to come”, but how many teams contend for many years?

    Thank you for your time.

    • Brett

      Sorry, Erik. The over-aggressive spam filter erroneously grabbed your comment for reasons unknown to me (false positive rate is extremely small, and I don’t catch them all). One thing I’d note – Russell’s numbers are inflated by his ill-conceived time in the rotation. As a reliever, he was excellent.

      • Rick Vaughn

        True dat Brizz-et. Russel was actually impressive at times out of the pen.

  • Jeff

    We want to trade our best reliever last year for a guy who will probably not make their rotation this year.

    So we give them our #1 guy for wait…not their #1 starter, not their #2 or #3 or #4 or #5, all for the sake of, oh we will have their guy for 5 more years.

    I sure as well hope that the other prospects included are way better.

  • North Side Irish

    Not against the idea of trading Marshall, but getting Wood and two fringe prospects seems a little light compared to what the Padres got for Mike Adams last year. Adams is older and makes similar money to Marshall, but the Padres got two of the Rangers top pitching prospects in return. I’d rather have that than a back of the rotation starter and I haven’t seen anyone projecting Wood as more than a #4/5 SP.

    • Jeff

      Thank you Irish!

    • ncsujuri


      The difference lies in the fact that with the new CBA the compensation the Rangers expected to get if they lost Adams was high, compared to what the Reds might be able to get if they lose Marshall as a FA after the year.

    • King Jeff

      Before last season’s bad year, he was a pretty well regarded pitcher. I don’t think he’s worth Marshall alone, but if there is another solid prospect added, I think it’s pretty fair. Wood had a mid 3 era his rookie year, and has had some pretty dominant years in the minors at every level. He also had 10 starts last year that went 6 innings or more where he gave up 3 or fewer runs and his BABIP rose almost 100 points from 2010. There is reason to believe that he could be a rotation mainstay, and the fact that he’s left handed, and under team control for 5 seasons makes him a pretty valuable guy. Marshall’s great, but he’s going to get close to 10 million a year when he hits the open market, and I don’t think the team has that kind of money to spend on a reliever since Hendry isn’t around anymore.

  • Mick

    Great deal, if everything goes through. The addition of 2 minor leaguers sounds like Theo and team were thinking ahead on the 2 compensation picks the Reds would recieve when Marshall signs elsewhere at the end of the year. I doubt we get any prospect above Rookie ball but getting extra minor leaguers might work well in the compensation we owe Boston and San Diego. I wonder if Theo’s on the phone right now with Cherington and Byrnes asking them who they want.

  • Jeff


    From the desk of Phil Rogers, “Keep an eye on the possibility of acquiring 14-game winner Matt Harrison from Texas for Marlon Byrd and others (Wells?)”

    Any possibility there are real talks of this. Much better than a Marshall for Wood.

    • njriv

      Seems unlikely, but I hope it’s true!

    • Brett

      Harrison has been mentioned as a possible trade candidate given the now surplus of Rangers starters. It’s conceivable, but I doubt Phil’s heard anything.

    • pakman23

      This would be robbery! Someone arrest that man!

  • DRock

    No thank you. I would rather have Marshall and shouldn’t he be worth more than “Travis Wood”??? So confused if they make this deal…

    • Jeff


  • Oswego Chris

    I think its unfair to say Wood projects only as a fourth or fifth starter…I would say his upside could be a 2 or 3….


    is Sean Marshall’s middle name DeRosa?…..such outrage over a lefty set up guy…

    • Jeff

      If Wood projected as a future 2 or 3, Cincinnati would never part with him. He’s about to hit his peak years. They know something more about him and are making him expendable.

      Gosh, you must be smoking some of that good $hit, can I have some please…lol

    • Toosh

      Exactly! “a lefty set up guy”. On a team that many don’t expect to have many leads to protect.

    • DRock

      He’s probably the best lefty set up guy in the MLB. Come on Oswego. Marshall is worth more than a “Travis Wood”.

  • Jeff

    The most telling stats is the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 100 innings in either season.

    It would be risky to put any faith that he would give you 200 innings. The value in starting pitching is having guys who can give you 200+ innings a season.

    Yes, you would like them to have good numbers to go with those innings, but that variable is harder to dictate for a pitcher than it is to predict if they can throw that many innings.

    Harrison would give you those innings, Wood, I don’t know about…which adds risk, red flag, red flag, red flag!

    • King Jeff

      Wood was in the minors for a good portion of both seasons. 100 innings between double and triple A in 2010 and 50 innings at triple A last year, and he pitched out of the bullpen for the Reds a bit last year. He had over 200 innings in 2010, and would have at least come close last year if he hadn’t been hurt/put in the pen. Besides, we should count ourselves lucky that Dusty Baker didn’t ride him into the dirt, and that he liked Dontrelle Willis over Wood, even though Wood was younger and pitching better.

      I like Harrison, and I think it would be a great trade to get him for Byrd and Wells. If the team adds Maholm and/or Jeff Francis, the rotation could be ready to go.

    • Martin

      He pitched 202 in Inge between AAA and MLB in 2010.

  • Frank

    Why? Why would they do that? I’d much rather have a proven, dominant, left-handed set up man than a “possible back-of-the-rotation starter”–especially one who struggled at AAA, doesn’t give you a lot of innings and has been regressing.

  • gary

    I have also heard rumors about possibly trading byrd and something to Texas for Matt harrison who won 14 games last year. That would be a good trade. Getting young starting pitching like Wood and Harrison would be great. Trade Marmol and get some more and sign Fielder and Crisp and you never know what might happen. I feel Cashner can be a good closer.

    • Jeff

      I watched Cashner pitch at AA in 2010 as a starter, he was lights out for that team, went deep and was unhittable.

      I think we need to slowly work him back into a starter.

      • King Jeff

        I agree. I saw him pitch for the Smokies and he was wicked. I hope he works out as a starter, but I don’t think it would hurt his development to pitch 100 innings or so out of the pen and swing start a couple of times this year.

  • Tony Miller

    This is horrible!!!!!! I’m loosing faith in our front office!!! Why not hold on to him and if he leaves via free agent get the 2 high draft picks instead of the reds cast offs.

    • Theo

      New CBA = no draft picks for Marshall

  • AB

    if the rumore is Wood + 2 other players, this seems to be more than what the White Sox recieved for Santos and the Rockies got for Street, and Santos is on a similar deal salary wise as Marshall with more years.

    Wood is under team control for 5 years. Not sure what the complaining is about when you examine the other trades involving relievers this offseason.

    The CBA changed the trade market significantly. you can’t compare what the Pads got to Bell to what the Cubs should get for Marshall, its like apples and oranges.

    • ncsujuri


  • ottoCub

    Marshall for Wood and a mid-level prospect or two sounds like a solid move. Wood won’t be a free agent until 2016, and he’s got a good potential up-side. His lower salary will open up more budget for free agents over the next four years. And, the Cubs need to pick up some prospects, if for no other reason than to have more chips to bargain with in trades. Sure, it will be hard to see Marshall in Cincinnati red instead of Cubbie blue. But the Cubs have to think about the future, and this includes clearing salary and gathering major-league ready players (like Wood) and prospects. The Cubs system is depleted of 3 and 4 starters (especially lefties) and the farm system seems weak at the AA and AAA level in terms of trade-ready or major-league prospects. Gotta rebuild the system! And to do this, sometimes fan favorites might have to go…

    • ottoCub

      It also can’t hurt to have this potential trade show up in the press… If other teams are interested in Marshall, they’ve definitely been on the phone to the Cubs this morning and might offer more than the Reds.

  • Bluball

    I can’t say I like or dislike the deal…. A 4-5 starter would be as useful to the team as a setup Mann with no leads to protect.. Seems at least the FO is starting to show the course that we will be following going into 2012 though. Let the sale begin!!

  • Ajbearsfan

    Well let’s face it cubs fans, we are rebuilding. There won’t be any competition magic in our stockings this year. By the time theo’s contract is up we MIGHT be a contender at best. We need pitching now and power and there won’t be any goo FA power for the next few years. Our only hope it seems is a good build of the farm system and maybe this wood doofus is part of that plan. The curse continues……that is all

  • Ajbearsfan

    Well let’s face it cubs fans, we are rebuilding. There won’t be any competition magic in our stockings this year. By the time theo’s contract is up we MIGHT be a contender at best. We need pitching now and power and there won’t be any good FA power for the next few years. Our only hope it seems is a good build of the farm system and maybe this wood doofus is part of that plan. The curse continues……that is all

    • JasonB

      The sky is falling!!

      We’ve been rebuilding for 103 years – what’s one more year going to hurt?

  • MB allbearsbullscubs

    I also like the Marshall move, but we need to make a statement this year. If our new front office really wants to make a big splash trade Soriano and that crazy contract eat as much of it as we have to. He has to go. Thats where the rebuilding needs to start. We need to just count him as a loss and move on. Lets get Fielder bring up Jackson stick him in center, move Bryd to left, sign Saunders and build from there.

  • Ajbearsfan

    You know the thing about fielder I wonder about is why would he want to come to Chicago where we are building? He’s used to winning. We are stuck with soriano unless they by him out. Why waste that money? Play him, but the rest of the plan I agree with.

    • Sweetjamesjones

      See Wu Tang Clan under C.R.E.A.M.

  • Eric

    Hearing Hamilton might come as part of the reds prospects. Hamilton is the Reds #2 prospect.

    • Brett

      Where did you hear that, if I might ask?

      • Dumpman

        Read it too. This trade could be a definate win.

    • Falselife

      Hamilton? Hell, I heard the Reds were acquiring Yu Darvish after the Rangers sign him and shipping him to us for Marshall.

      Sorry, but that’s about as likely as them shipping Hamilton to us. Would love to see it, but seeing nothing to support your claim, Eric.

    • ferrets_bueller

      “as part…”

      uh…I’d have a hard time seeing Hamilton coming here alone, not to mention along with other players.  Unless, of course, Walt Jockety has lost his mind…

      ….Although….I’m not totally sold on his hitting ability.  So I could actually see that not being a good trade for the Cubs…but then again, after all, all you have to give up is a reliever.  So in that case, maybe Jockety would want to deal him while he still has the hype.  But, if all you’re getting is a relief pitcher….

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    I Would Make the trade if it gets us Juan Francisco along with Wood!! That would solve our 3rd base issues for years to come!!!

  • BetterNews

    This is mind-boggling! How can Marshall be on the chop block and Marmol is not? Marmol commands a salary of what, 7 mil next year, 9 mil in 2013. What are we going to need a closer for if we’re not going to be in any games. I find it hard to believe nobody is interested in Marmol.

    • Brett

      Marmol is undoubtedly on the block.

    • Toosh

      Neither Marshall nor Marmol are “on the chop block”. If the Cubs can trade either of them thinking it will improve the team, they have to consider it.

    • hansman1982

      Marshall is on the block now because he value can be no higher.  As soon as Opening Day passes, even if he doesn’t throw the ball, his value declines because teams won’t be able to potentially get a draft pick for him

      Marmol can really only increase his trade value.  He had a “poor” 2011 and if he gives us 15-20 good outings in June and July that could cause his value to skyrocket at the deadline.

      • Mick

        I agree, there’s no sense of urgency in selling Marmol now with his value so low (expensive contract in relation to 2011 performance) and a glut of available closers. If Marmol can regain his form early in 2012, there will be plenty of eager suitors with injured or underperforming closers at the trade deadline.

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  • MC2

    Seems to me we are doing exactly what they said they would do, adding defense, adding depth to the rotation. We have guys that can throw in the pen, Wood has potential because of youth, it was already reported they would give Smardz a chance in the starting rotation, we have young arms that need fine tuned. Everybody keeps talking budget, we don’t have enough money, I say what the hell! The Cubs can afford anyone they want… Cepedas and Soler are still sitting out there. Money that can be spent from the latin players budget, not necessarily coming from the big league budget, and both may not be ready to play at the MLB level yet. Building, building, building! I have a feeling you’re going to see things done from a coaching standpoint you have never seen done buy the Cubs before, it’s going to be more exciting. The same people bitching that Theo and Company aren’t spending were the same ones that were bitching that Hendry was buying junk and over paying for it. I have complete faith in this regime, they have done it before they will do it again. That’s why these guys are in the front office and not mowing peoples lawns for a living… …