The Cubs are, unsurprisingly, shopping Carlos Marmol this week in Nashville, and, ultimately, the rest of the offseason if they can’t get something done at the Winter Meetings. Marmol, 30, is under contract through 2013, only, and he’ll make a healthy $9.8 million. On a team in the Cubs’ position, a $10 million closer is a luxury, not a necessity. And, with Kyuji Fujikawa soon to be in the fold, plus the Cubs still considering late inning options like Jason Grilli, there is going to be plenty of leeway to shop Marmol.
Marmol’s got a limited no-trade clause, so the Cubs are keeping in close contact with Marmol about their efforts. Indeed, Gordon Wittenmyer says the Cubs have been up front with Marmol and told him he’s a trade candidate this Winter, but that they’re not going to “give him away.”
In other words, “we’re shopping you heavily, we’d like to put together a deal, but prepare yourself for the possibility that you’re going to be a Cub come April, even though you know you were shopped.” Given that Marmol has already been asked to approve a deal once this offseason (the failed Dan Haren swap with the Angels), I like this up front approach. Marmol is a professional, and there are no illusions that, at the longest, he’ll be with the Cubs past 2013. So, you shop him, and you keep him in the loop (both because he already knows what’s going on, and because of his no-trade rights). If a deal comes together, great. If not, hopefully he’s been properly apprised throughout the process, and is ready to go when the 2013 season.
Of course, the Cubs make sure to add the “but we won’t give you away” piece to try and preserve what tiny bit of leverage they might have in trade talks. If the Cubs can put a deal together, what might the return look like?
Being that the Haren trade was a special case (recall, the Angels had almost no leverage with an option decision on Haren due on the day the trade was consummated), I don’t think I’d say that that is a fair representation of Marmol’s trade value. He was very effective in the second half, but I’m not sure that too many teams will view him as a solid closing option. Instead, he’d be a quality late-inning arm, who could be acquired on a one-year, low dollar deal (assuming the Cubs eat some of his salary). For that kind of a player, the Cubs can expect to get a decent, noteworthy prospect – but not a game-changer. Alternatively, the Cubs could try and pick up a fringy big league arm, or – God willing – a third baseman.
Just don’t expect a haul.