Carlos Marmol bummedYesterday was full of activity for the Chicago Cubs, and the highest profile name that moved was involved in what was actually the least important trade. Over a week ago, the Cubs decided to part ways with Carlos Marmol, designated him for assignment, and set about the process of trying to find him a new home. A handful of teams were interested, but, ultimately, the best deal the Cubs could find is one that has thrown folks for a loop.

In it, the Cubs sent Marmol, cash, and $210,000 in international signing bonus space to the Dodgers for DFA’d reliever Matt Guierrer. The Cubs are reportedly saving about $500,000 in the deal. Marmol was then reportedly just DFA’d by the Dodgers. (UPDATE: Ken Gurnick says no, Marmol wasn’t DFA’d. For our purposes here, I don’t much think it matters – if he’s DFA’d, it’s just a procedural move to get him to the minors, which would be done this quickly only if Marmol has basically already agreed to accept that assignment. Gammons says Marmol is already on waivers, which, if true, would confirm his report. This is all probably just theater.)

I’ll admit that I, too, have a tough time pinning down precisely what the Cubs were hoping to accomplish in this trade. When you step back, it’s a very minor deal involving minor players, so it doesn’t merit a ton of hand-wringing. But, if I understand the financial particulars (and the reports have been a bit scattered), it sounds like the Cubs swapped Marmol for Guerrier, and used $210,000 in international bonus pool space to acquire about $500,000 in real money.

Given the obvious importance of international pool money to the Cubs this year, my instinct is to say the Cubs would have been better off just letting Marmol walk and keeping that pool space. Howeva, there are a ton of possible explanations here:

(1) the Cubs knew they weren’t going to use that final $210,000 in international pool space, so the “real” money made the trade worth it;

(2) the Cubs really like Guerrier and there were other teams interested in trading for him (despite the fact that he’d flamed out of the Dodgers’ woeful bullpen … );

(3) the Cubs like Guerrier just enough to believe that there’s a chance they can reclaim him over the next month and maybe deal him at the end of the month as a complementary piece (he does have a nice track record of success);

(4) the Cubs wanted to try and set Marmol up in the best possible landing spot to ensure he had a chance to succeed, rather than risk releasing him and seeing him not find a team (i.e., the “nice guys” explanation, where the Cubs effectively paid to force the Dodgers to take him – but today’s DFA calls that into question); and/or

(5) there are complex financial issues at play to which we don’t have visibility, and the financials of this deal helped the Cubs a lot more than we think.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told the media that the thrust of the deal was the cost savings it gave the Cubs, which, if taken at its face, suggests that explanation number one up there (and/or number five) is the primary motivator. If the Cubs go out and trade for another couple hundred thousand in pool space, though (as they might need to do to sign Eloy Jimenez), it’ll make us wonder. I’m guessing it’s one of those situations where it’s a little bit of number one, a little of number three, a little of number four, and a little of number five.

Again: for the 2013 Chicago Cubs (and the future), it’s a minor trade involving a guy who, at present, had no trade value. That the Cubs arguably received no value in return should therefore surprise no one. Hopefully Guerrier turns things around, and everyone celebrates.

Whatever the explanation, Marmol will now get a shot to re-establish himself with the Dodgers, who say they have identified a mechanical issue that they believe they can fix. (They didn’t say whether the mechanical issue was “his delivery.”) He’ll pitch in lower-leverage situations if and when he’s in the bigs, where he’s had the most success over the last couple of years. He still has a mid-90s fastball and a good – if no longer devastating – slider. There is still clay there with which to work, and that’s probably why he was DFA’d by the Dodgers – so he could head to the minors and work on those mechanical fixes.

Marmol was, for many years, the most incredible and terrifying reliever I can remember the Cubs having. When he was on, it was hilarious to watch batters embarrass themselves trying to hit him. When he was off, it probably would have been hilarious to watch the veins popping out of my neck as I struggled to keep the remote in my hand and off of the wall.

He set records with the Cubs. He once put up a 325 ERA+. He was critically important to those very good 2007 and 2008 Cubs teams. Sure, it was always a high wire act, but more often than not, he made it across the canyon with flash bulbs popping. There are plenty of good memories. I think I’ll hang my hat on those, rather than the times Marmol was booed before he’d even entered the game.

Good luck with the Dodgers, Carlos, and wherever the next stop is after that. May every next team have a high wire for you to successfully traverse.

  • JulioZuleta

    Soooo part of the deal was the Cubs giving LAD more money if he was cut, and then the Dodgers immediately DFA him? Seems kinda shady.

    • Brett

      I’m not sure I buy that part of the reports (yet). Believe that was – supposedly – only if he signed with another team. So if he goes to the minors, all is good.

      • Andy

        Jayson Stark tweeted yesterday that the Cubs will owe the Dodgers more if Marmol is released by the Dodgers and signed by another team. He’s usually a pretty good source, so there shouldn’t be a lot of reason to doubt its accuracy.

        • Brett

          I don’t doubt Jayson – I suspect that there’s more to it.

    • Crockett

      I would hope the Cubs would file a good faith violation with the Commissioner’s office.

  • JeffR

    Did the cubs get punked?

    • DarthHater

      The Cubs always get punked, because: (a) the FO is full of mental defectives; and/or (b) the FO’s overriding goal is to use every conceivable method to make the Cubs as awful as possible. Haven’t you been paying attention? 😛

  • DarthHater

    Doesn’t Marmol still have the right to become a free agent if he wants to? Did he waive that right when he accepted the trade to LAD? Or is he just willing to accept assignment to their minor league system, with expectation of a future call-up?

    • Brett

      We’ll probably find out soon enough, but my guess is, given the way this played out – and considering he waived his no-trade rights to accept the deal in the first place – he knows the Dodgers’ plan for him, and was OK with it.

      • Spencer

        Wasn’t there also something that said if Marmol goes to a different team or doesn’t work out, that the Cubs have to pay whatever salary relief they were getting from the Dodgers, back to the Dodgers? So it seems like the Cubs may be on the hook for the rest of his salary this year?

        • hansman1982

          This seems like a really odd contingency to have in a trade between two DFA’d guys.

  • Swence32

    Brett, you said in your Eloy Jimenez post earlier, “The actual signing will come at some point this week, it looks like. That might be because the Cubs need to add a little more bonus pool money before they can sign Jimenez.”

    So if we think they need more Int’l money to sign Jimenez, why did they “waste” $210,000 in the Marmol deal? Unless they do really value Guerrier and the $200 thousand is negligible.

  • Spencer

    The problem with (1) up there is that the Cubs gave the money to LA, who is likely to be a very heavy player in the IFA market. That’s the problem that I have with them giving up the IFA money, regardless of if they were going to “need” it or not. Plus, they’re just saving 500K in real dollars? That amount should be a drop in the bucket to a big market team like the Cubs. If they really like Guerrier, then…well, I still don’t know if it was a good move. I guess it’s better to get someone back than no one at all. I dunno. Giving up that IFA money to a direct competitor in the IFA market just makes me weary. It’s a weird situation.

    • DocShock

      Remember the IFA money is not actual money. It is cap space. It allows you to spend that much without penalties. In other words the Dodgers arestill spending that $210k out of their own pocket, the Cubs did not give them IFA money, just cap space to avoid penalties.

  • Swence32

    As you said earlier, the Cubs may need more cash to sign Jimenez. Wouldn’t that $200 thousand have helped? Or do they really value Guerrier and the Int’l cash was negligible?

  • falselife

    Nothing about how this is playing out excites me. If this turns out that we basically traded $210,000 of cap money for a reliever that is struggling, I will be less than happy. I’m still searching for the logic of this move by a front office that seems to ooze intelligence. There has to be something we aren’t seeing yet, right? As of right now, I just don’t see it.

    • Swence32

      Unless the FA really values Guerrier to the tune of $210,000 in Int’l money. Brett even mentioned in the Eloy Jimenez post earlier that the Cubs are probably still looking for Int’l cash to complete the deal. I wonder if that $210,000 is negligible and they have another del in mind to get even more $.

      • Scotti

        FWIW, Matt Guerrier had a 3.45 ERA a couple of days ago and his peripherals are still good. So his falling apart is really only two bad games. That happens to relievers–small sample sizes. His problem is that he’s 34 and not going to be around for any of the dozen, or so, World Series the Cubs win over the next decade…

    • hansman1982

      I guess part of that depends on how you view the trade.

      If it’s Marmol for Guierrer and then real cash for the right to spend cash, then meh. I’d rather have the $500K and Torreyes.

      If it’s your scenario, Marmol for cash and cap space for Guierrer, it’s less-meh for me. I’d rather have eaten the salary and gone for Guierrer and kept the cap space.

      The trade as a whole is very meh for me. I’m glad they were able to move Marmol and get something out of him but considering it “cost” us Torreyes, I’d rather have released Marmol and claimed Guierrer.

      • bbmoney

        I don’t get how it cost us Torreyes. In theory we still needed at least 600k to sign the #1 guy even if we didn’t give the Dodgers 210k.

        What am I missing?

        • Josho

          We don’t know all the details yet. There’s probably a very solid reasoning behind this deal. Once the details are fully disclosed, then we can pass judgement.

        • hansman1982

          I doubt it was a direct correlation, maybe we could have used a lesser prospect. Maybe I’m letting myself irrationally love Torreyes.

          • bbmoney

            Ok, got it. Just thought I’d missed something. Thanks.

          • Josho

            Probably being irrational on Torreyes. He’s a fringy guy at best in a positional crunch.

          • cms0101

            Given everything that happened yesterday, even without the Marmol deal, I have a strong feeling the Torreyes move still would have happened. They have so much depth in the middle infield, all better than Torreyes. Getting the money from the Astros did two things. First, it gave the Cubs the money needed for Jimenez. Second, it took money out of the Astros hands, thus eliminating competion for any other international free agents. Even if the Astros weren’t going to use it, they could have traded it to someone else, thus causing the Cubs to compete with another team for remaining guys. Putting aside Torreyes though, the Marmol deal is extremely puzzling and feels like the Cubs were trying to be “smarter” than everyone else by wielding this new currency that nobody has put tangible value on yet.

  • JulioZuleta

    Gotta love Ned Colletti’s quotes YESTERDAY:

    “He’s still got a lot of youth to him. He’s not on the downside of his career. He needs, perhaps, a change of scenery and an adjustment with his delivery. Anytime you can add somebody who’s had success pitching the ninth, you can always use them in roles that don’t include the ninth. If you need the ninth, you’ve got somebody that’s at least experienced. We’re looking to add to the pen. Whatever that role becomes, it will become.”

    • hansman1982

      And there were folks being ridiculed after Marmol’s 3-run BS implying that had he converted it, he may have had more trade value.

      • Brett

        That’s not my recollection – for my part, anyway. I remember ridiculing folks who were inconsolable that the Cubs had lost a game, instead taking the chance on showing the world that they had some faith in Marmol, with the hopes that he could pitch well for another month thereafter.

        • hansman1982

          You did your usual, “Holy crap, Brett really is a stand-up smart guy” act. (It’s getting old, btw, I really want to see you sling some mud!)

          Needless to say, there were a lot of fans who thought Colletti’s quote above was impossible had he converted that save.

  • kubphan82

    Every “wish you well” has an understood caveat “successful except against the Cubs”?

    I didn’t expect anything out of the Marmol deal. Not sure that this was any better than releasing him. Obviously the Cubs are in a better position to know what options they have for the BP but with a Marmol trade/release I was hoping to see promotions, etc. We have bullpen depth that’s not being tapped right now… Coleman/Bowden and I’m not sure when they start thinking about Schlitter as depth but why not… It’s not like we needed Guerrier to replace a BP spot. Especially if we include Stropp as a new addition.

  • JulioZuleta

    The Cubs should re-sign him. *ducks*

  • North Side Irish

    keithlaw ‏@keithlaw 3m
    @jay_jaffe @pgammo Correct. I was told he’d already agreed to accept the assignment.

    Sounds like they DFAd him with the intent of sending him to AAA…he’s going to be an Isotope!

  • JulioZuleta

    Now some guy tweeted that he WASN’T DFA’d. Muskat Rt’d it. Really odd stuff.

  • Andy

    Ken Gurnick of just tweeted that Marmol HAS NOT been DFA’d by Dodgers.

    • North Side Irish

      And we are back on the Marmol roller coaster…

      • JulioZuleta

        The Marmoller Coaster?

  • Bric

    Very strange end to a very strange career with the Cubs. Like I said a couple of days ago- good luck to him in his future endeavors. But unless the mechanical issue the Dodgers have identified involves psychological help of some kind they’re wasting their time.

    In any case this is just further evidence that MLB’s drafting, trading, free agency and everything else agreements are the most overly complicated, most questionable, and closest to violation of a number of federal statutes in all of sports. Bud needs to retire and the whole system needs to be scrapped and replaced. Brett- I know it’s a little off target from Marmol, but in your legal opinion is the current CBA ah, what’s the word… legal?

    • Crockett

      This is an interesting question. I’ve often wondered if there is room for a lawsuit by the unrepresented parties (amateurs/minor leaguers/international FA) to strike down the CBA.

  • Tim Morgan

    I just want to know if he’s going to be playing with the Isotopes when they come to Nashville in a few weeks. I want to go and boo him, you know, for old times’ sake.

  • North Side Irish

    Al Yellon ‏@bleedcubbieblue 43s
    RT @ckamka: This day in #Cubs history 1999: Cubs sign a non-drafted free agent C/OF by the name of Carlos Marmol


  • James

    I hope the Cubs didn’t know about the Dodgers plans with Marmol. Cause if the Cubs did it just is wrong and as fans we should look poorly at Theo and Jeb. Say what you want about Carlos Marmol at least the man tried. Carlos Marmol just didn’t have it anymore. We all can dump on Marmol but if any of us were giving an contract that was $15 million a year we would take it.

  • Timmy

    He was terrible this year, and at other times in the past. But I agree with Brett that when he was on he was Mariano Rivera good. I hope he recovers that form.

    Unless our GMs were playing good samaritan, though, this seems like a few days wasted and a moderate loss for the team. A few of the other trades yesterday had upsides though.

  • Jay

    Doesn’t matter what “mechanical” issues the Dodgers think they’ve identified. The Cubs and everyone else in baseball have also identified those same issues. The problem starts when you try to get Marmol the bonehead to make the necessary changes which he has shown he either won’t do or can’t comprehend what to do.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    I think Marmol’s biggest issue was that he got a little chunky. His weight gain seemed to coincide with velocity loss and his slider becoming a lot less sharp.

    He was outstanding for a while, and then like most relievers he flamed out.

    The real failure was the contract extension when it was pretty obvious he was in decline.

    Good luck, Carlos!

    • waittilthisyear

      i have to agree with this. i was somewhat frusturated to hear maangement continue to preach how hard carlos was working while he continued to baloon around the waistline. look at a guy like mariano rivera. his body has not changed in 20 years. trevor hoffman is another good example. it is hard to maintain consistent mechanics when your body is constantly changing

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Plenty of pitchers have gotten downright fat without it affecting the way that they pitch. So, although Marmol’s decreased performance might have coincided with weight gain, weight gain is an unlikely explanation for that decreased performance.

      • Jp3

        His keyster though definitely affected the ball’s gravitational pull.. I have no proof of this however…

      • Timmy

        Right, it was probably due to poor morale.

  • JJ

    Various sites have identified changes in Marmol’s delivery over the last several years, including leg kick, balance, etc. Whether those are mechanical or physical (back, knee, weight gain) and whether those changes can return Marmol to a valuable pitcher (or if it was really the loss of velocity and movement), we’ll see in the next month or two. Either way, he pitched well for several years. Even his stats this year in non-save situtations were reasonable.

  • Justin

    Yeah this deal is so weird to me. Are the Cubs soooo hard up for cash that they’re willing to punt important Intl. Pool money? If so, that’s pretty scary in itself. I don’t see any reason the Cubs couldn’t have put that $200k of Pool money to better use. Hell at the least trade the pool money for something of better value than a DFA’d Guerrier and a small amount of cash. I hate this deal, and would love to understand why this happened.

    Brett, I love your website and you’re really good at what you do, but who cares about reason #4? The Cubs suck, and they’re million of loyal fans who want a winner extremely bad. I find it frustrating if they are wasting any energy trying to “set Marmol up in the best possible landing spot”. Especially to a team like the dodgers. Damn…

    • Timmy

      That’s the thing, we’re significantly under payroll! We’re not hard up for money at all, just the appearance of trying when ownership has restricted most financial moves while they pay themselves back for their own loan.

  • The Dude Abides

    This amounts to two ex-fairly successful major leaguers being given a change of scenery and hope for the best. The two teams are playing around a little with the financials. Nothing else, hope it works out for both players. No chance either team is trying to pull anything. Small club and they will need to do business again.

  • North Side Irish

    Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick 1m
    I talked to a couple of scouts and a front office man last night who really liked the #cubs end of the Feldman deal.

    • North Side Irish

      Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick 2m
      Everyone thinks Arrieta has the talent and stuff to be a “guy.” It’s just a question of getting his head on straight. #cubs

      • Jp3

        A guy?? Wow, so what is he now then?

        • North Side Irish

          “Just a guy”…it’s different.

          • Jp3

            Ha! Always appreciate the breaking news via twitter NSI. Twitter is often the best method for getting breaking news, I just can’t keep up with it😀. Thanks for always having your ear to the ground.

      • North Side Irish

        Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick 1m
        Arrieta might ultimately wind up in the bullpen. But #cubs have the luxury of giving him an extended shot as a starter

        • North Side Irish

          Jerry Crasnick ‏@jcrasnick 10m
          Consensus is that Theo & Jed might have also helped increase Garza’s value by moving Feldman so early. #cubs

  • Mr. Gonzo

    Like a wet, smelly fart on a hot, muggy day in a crowded, broken-down elevator, Marmol brings out a passionate, polarizing reaction from everyone. Getting upset about the math just delays the smell from leaving your nostrils — just let the air clear. He’s doomed and not our problem anymore.

  • dash

    Not only was it funny to watch batters try to hit off him when he was “on”, it was even better when they didn’t swing at all, but stood there watching what looked like an obvious ball suddenly drop right over the plate for a strike!

  • DReese

    Doesn’t Marmol hold the ML record for K/9IP or something like that? it was around 15?

  • Anonnifan

    You guys are all missing the obvious. Marmol is going to go to LA. The Dodgers plan for him is undoubtedly to get him an aura cleansing, and then put him on a crash regime of new age crystal therapy to get his release point sorted out. Then three days in a sweat lodge to clear out his 9th inning mental block, and boom, you have Marmol of old. As far as Gurrier goes, it wasn’t so long ago that he was a really important part of the strong Twins bullpen. I remember watching him dominate in high leverage, late inning situations setting up for Nathan. He has had some off years, but there is nothing I’ve heard that makes me think he can’t turn it around.

  • Rcleven

    Chris Rusin ‏@C_RusIn 19m

    Racking up those frequent flier miles✈☁✈☁✈☁✈ #wheelsup

    Back to Iowa I guess.

    • Brett

      Guess so.

  • Chase S.

    Is there any cash penalty to signing Bryant over slot or do they just lose a pick? If so, then maybe that explains the trade for “real” cash?