Cubs Manager Dale Sveum made an interesting comment the other day, saying basically that Carlos Marmol is not guaranteed to return to the closer role.
Well, I think he is. In fact, I believe he'll be back in the role by June (at least, if the Cubs know what's good for them).
Bottom line is that the Cubs need to trade Marmol and they cannot do that when his value is at its lowest, which it is now. They need him to get back into form, put together a strong month in the closer role and then trade him in July to the first contender to come calling.
Marmol is just another example of bad contract management by former GM Jim Hendry. Coming off a career year in 2010, Hendry signed Marmol to a 3-year extension in February 2011, effectively buying out his last two years of arbitration and his first year of free agency.
The problem is that, even though Marmol put up incredible numbers, posting a 2.55 ERA, saving 38 games and striking out 138 in 77.2 IP (16.0 K/9), he still showed signs of the control problems that have plagued him every year.
His BB/9 ratio in 2010 was 6.0, same as his career mark. Sure it was down from his high water mark of 7.9 in 2009, but its still too high to be an effective reliever over the long haul.
Hendry would have been better served to let Marmol play out his arbitration years and see how he performed before committing to him long-term. Sure hindsight is 20/20, but the warning signs were there.
Now, the best bet for the Cubs is that Marmol returns to the closer role at the beginning of June, puts up solid numbers for a month and garners strong interest from one of several teams in need of bullpen help.
Currently there are five teams with injured closers: Boston (Andrew Bailey), Tampa Bay (Kyle Farnsworth), Washington (Drew Storen), Toronto (Sergio Santos) and San Diego (Huston Street). In addition, there are 3 other teams (besides the Cubs) with struggling or deposed closers: Miami (Heath Bell), LA Angels (Jordan Walden) and the White Sox (Hector Santiago).
At least half of these teams are considered contenders and there are likely more teams with bullpen issues to crop up as the season progresses.
As you can see, it is imperative that Marmol gets back into form so the Cubs can deal him in July. Otherwise, they will be stuck paying $9.8 million for 2013, an expensive price for a setup man.