Extension Candidate: Carlos Marmol

Carlos Marmol and the Cubs agreed to a one-year, $2.125MM contract last February as the reliever and club avoided a hearing in Marmol's first arbitration season.  The deal gave Marmol almost four times what he earned in 2009, and he'll be up for another big raise this winter whether he and the Cubs work out another one-year deal or if they pursue a longer-term option.

Marmol took over as Chicago's closer midway through the 2009 season, but his control problems made some wonder whether Marmol could last in the role.  While Marmol is still walking more batters than the Cubs would like (a 6.1 BB/9 rate), it's still an improvement over the 7.9 BB/9 rate that he posted last year.  More importantly, Marmol has also improved his ERA, WHIP, hits/9 rate and K/BB ratio from 2009, and upped his already-impressive 11.3 K/9 rate last season to a whopping 15.9 K/9 in 2010.  His 62 games finished are also the most in baseball.

Should the Cubs wish to pursue a one-year deal with Marmol again, Heath Bell's one-year, $4MM deal with the Padres last winter is a suitable model.  Bell, like Marmol, was coming off his first season as his team's closer and delivered an All-Star performance.  Bell's 2009 and Marmol's 2010 were pretty similarly impressive — Bell had the better K/BB ratio, BB/9 and WHIP, while Marmol has the superior K/9 rate, HR/9, hits/9, and has already thrown more innings.  Bell did have the advantage of pitching at PETCO Park, so between that and inflation, Marmol has an argument that he should earn closer to $5MM than $4MM.

In terms of a multi-year option, Marmol and agent Barry Praver will look at Brian Wilson's two-year, $15MM extension with San Francisco as a starting point.  While Wilson has certainly pitched well enough this season to lower some of the eyebrows that were raised when he signed that extension last winter, the Cubs may hesitate to commit that much money to Marmol given his still-present control issues.  It should be noted, however, that even with Marmol's 2009 wildness, he still put up a 3.41 ERA and held opposing batters to a .170 average, so it's not like he pitched poorly.  If Marmol's 2011 season is akin to his 2009, it would still be a campaign that the Cubs wouldn't feel sick about paying around $7.5MM to keep.

Given Marmol's high ceiling, the Cubs might be wise to shoot for an option-heavy contract similar to the one that their ex-closer Kevin Gregg received from the Blue Jays last winter.  Gregg received $2.75MM for 2010, and the Jays can pick up a 2011 option for $4.5MM or an option for both 2011 and 2012 for a total of $8.75MM.  Obviously Toronto was able to get such a team-friendly deal since Gregg struggled in 2009, but if the Cubs double the dollar amounts, Marmol might accept the cost-certainty.  The last option year (that would theoretically cover Marmol's first free agent year) could be adjusted to a mutual option, giving Marmol the ability to walk away after 2012 if he thinks there's an eight-figure offer on the market.  If Marmol keeps up his form from the last four seasons, such an offer would certainly exist.

Chicago already has approximately $103MM committed to next year's payroll, and that's not counting the pay bump that Geovany Soto (an extension candidate himself) will get in his first year of arbitration.  Given the fungibility of relief pitching, the Cubs may lock up Marmol for next year and revisit his contract situation next offseason, thus taking the risk of having to pay more in 2012 for a pitcher who is on the cusp of being one of baseball's elite closers.  Either that or a combination of the Wilson and Gregg contracts — a two-year, $15MM deal with a team option to buy out Marmol's first free agent year for $10MM.


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13 Comments on "Extension Candidate: Carlos Marmol"

4 years 11 months ago

Lol he is pretty much a Gregg who walks more batters but also strikes out more batters but he’s done a good job for Chicago.

4 years 11 months ago

So that pretty much makes him no where near the same pitcher as Gregg…

4 years 11 months ago

Meh it pretty much balances out. Gregg walks less batters but doesn’t strike out as much. Marmol walks more batters but also strikes out more.

random but who cares: Bautista has 52 homers. So glad we didn’t trade him!

4 years 11 months ago

And Bautista is 100% clean as well!

4 years 11 months ago

He’s a good sell high candidate. He’s too wild and he is the Cub who can bring the most in a trade. Closer is a luxury for a noncontending team like the Cubs.

4 years 11 months ago

Marmol is a top 5 closer in the league.

1.) Mariano Rivera
2.) Brian Wilson
3.) Jonathan Papelbon
4.) Joakim Soria
5.) Carlos Marmol

4 years 11 months ago

1. mo
2. Bell
3. soria

4 years 11 months ago

1)Mariano Rivera
2)Joakim Soria
3)Rafael Soriano
4)Heath Bell
5)Brian Wilson

Andrew Bailey is up there, too.

4 years 11 months ago

The numbers you throw out in this piece are way too high. Broxton got a two-year deal worth $11 million last winter. That seems a fairer estimate. I recently wrote a piece on this subject where I proposed a THREE-year deal worth upwards of $15 million:


4 years 11 months ago

Can Marmol sign elsewhere? If so, he can expect a 3yr… $20M offer

4 years 11 months ago

Trading Marmol would be a huge mistake. For a team that is in a very winnable division by adding two or three pieces, trading him would be taking a step back.

4 years 11 months ago

I think they should try trading Marmol unless they can hire a real pitching coach, he will never learn to control his pitches with Rothschild.. They could get a young good hitting catcher for him.. they would be able to get 2 maybe 3 players for him. ML ready catcher and to low-mid level prospects who will have slim to none chance of being ML pitchers.. maybe instead of a catcher get a 1st baseman and the prospect could be a catcher since they could package Soto with Marmol.. but Hendry should be gone about a week after the season is over there is no reason why he should be allowed to search for the new manager.. We all know he’s going to overpay that person and it will be a terrible choice too. I don’t see why Bob Brenly isn’t a shoe in for the job. its technically in-house.. he has a 4 yr contract they could restructure it for him to be Bob Brenly Manager.. plus he’s got to be eager to manage again what better place then with a young team like the Cubs minus the huge contract who would be gone if he had a say in it.. Brenly I think is the one and only choice.

4 years 11 months ago

In regard to the list of closers, I think it’s foolish to list Soria anywhere. His numbers are great, and I’d like to see him on my team (NYY) as a setup man and possible closer replacement for Mariano Rivera, but he hasn’t been pennant race tested.

Seriously, no pennant race un-tested closer or setup man can be considered at the top of the game. When you shut down teams in big games over and over, then you’re somebody. Until then you are an excellent prospect, and little more than that.

1. Rivera
2. Papelbon
3. Soriano, Wilson, Bell

Best prospect, J. Soria. Don’t know how the Yankees failed to get him this year. He’s overpaid (for the Royals purposes) after 2011. He makes 4mil in 2011 and then 6mil, 8mil, 9mil. The Royals are unlikely to have a team where he’s worth holding on to by 2012. Maybe KC thinks they can get better packages in 2011 or even 2012.