Carlos Marmol Rumors

Pitcher Notes: Axford, Minor, Marmol, Hernandez

Yesterday, for the first time in nearly 15 years, five pitchers threw at least seven innings and allowed two hits or fewer, notes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels, Milwaukee’s Jimmy Nelson, Baltimore’s Ubaldo Jimenez, Boston’s Joe Kelly, and Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer turned the trick. Bartolo Colon was one of the quintet from 2000 (then with the Indians) and was the Mets’ starting pitcher today and drove in a run for the first time since 2005. Time marches slowly in our national pastime.

In other hurler news from around baseball:

  • The Rockies have placed reliever John Axford on the family medical emergency list to tend to his two-year-old son, reports Nick Groke of The Denver Post. Doctors have had to remove all the tissue and skin at the spot of a rattlesnake bite Jameson Axford suffered last month (the incident is detailed by Groke), down to the tendon and bone. To replace Axford on the roster, the Rockies selected the contract of right-hander Scott Oberg and created a spot on the 40-man roster for the 25-year-old rookie, who will make his MLB debut, by moving infielder Charlie Culberson to the 60-day disabled list.
  • The BravesMike Minor has suffered a setback while rehabbing his left shoulder, but surgery is not under consideration for now, reports MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. “He’s experienced some discomfort as he’s started to stretch himself out,” Braves Director of Baseball Operations John Hart said. “So, we’ve brought him up here to have…our medical people take a look at what is going on. We don’t have any recommendation yet. At the moment, he’ll return to Florida to continue the rehab. But there’s obviously some level of concern because the discomfort came back.
  • Former closer Carlos Marmol held a showcase in the Dominican Republic today and displayed velocity in the mid-90s with a new arm slot, tweets MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Marmol was released by the Reds last November, but has been pitching in the Dominican and Venezuela this winter. Over a nine-year MLB career with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Marlins, Marmol has a 3.57 ERA, 11.6 K/9, and 6.2 BB/9 mark in 577 innings with 117 saves.
  • Cuban right-hander Jorge Hernandez auditioned for 20 teams in the Dominican Republic and struck out 11 of the 18 hitters he faced, according to Sanchez in a separate tweet. The Twins did not have a presence at either the Marmol or Hernandez showcase, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.

Pitching Notes: Shields, Cards, Ogando, Albers, Baker, Coke, Comebacks

As things stand, the Nationals have the game’s best rotation while the Royals have the top pen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines (Insider links). Of course, the offseason is not yet over. Here are the latest notes on the pitching market:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart confirmed that the team has active interest in starter James Shields, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Stewart adds that he likes the idea of  Shields serving as a mentor while fronting the team’s rotation. Fellow free agent Max Scherzer, however, is too spendy for Arizona.
  • When the Cardinals pursued lefty Jon Lester, the team indicated it was willing to spend only to the $120MM range, Olney tweets. That could give an idea of what kind of payroll space the club feels willing to occupy, says Olney. St. Louis was recently linked to a trio of top starting pitchers, each of whom would represent quite a different investment.
  • Alexi Ogando apparently produced solid results in his recent workout, with Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweeting that scouts were impressed. The Red Sox and Dodgers are “aggressive” on Ogando, Gammons adds. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had tweeted that Boston was in attendance.
  • Righty Matt Albers is throwing in preparation for a showcase early next month, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). The shoulder issues that shut him down last year did not involve any structural damage, says Morosi.
  • Agent Bobby Witt says that client Scott Baker, another free agent righty, prefers to join a team that will allow him to enter camp as a starter, Morosi reports (Twitter links). Baker has five minor league offers in hand but is hoping to receive a major league contract.
  • Interest in lefty Phil Coke is “amping up,” Chris Iott of MLive.com tweets. Nevertheless, a signing does not appear to be imminent, per the report.
  • The Twins are planning to watch lefty Johan Santana throw today after already seeing him on the mound last week, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Santana is not the only prominent hurler eyeing a comeback, it seems. Former closer Carlos Marmol threw in the Dominican earlier this winter and is now pitching in Venezuela, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. And one-time relief ace Daniel Bard, whose career derailed with a failed conversion back to the rotation, is also seeking a return, Cafardo reports. The 29-year-old says he is finally healthy and expects to sign a deal this week.

Reds Release Carlos Marmol

The Reds have released right-hander Carlos Marmol, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports.  Cincinnati signed Marmol to a minor league deal in May, though he was placed on the restricted list just a few weeks later after he left the team without permission.  Paul Kinzer, Marmol’s agent, said his client needed a “mental break” and left to address some personal issues at home in the Dominican Republic.

Marmol, 32, posted an 8.10 ERA, 14 strikeouts and 10 walks over 13 1/3 IP for the Marlins last season before he was released and subsequently signed with the Reds.  Once one of baseball’s top relief arms, Marmol’s career-long control problems grew completely untenable in recent years (a 7.3 BB/9 since the start of the 2012 season) though he was still able to miss bats, as evidenced by his 11.1 K/9 in that same stretch.  Over a nine-year MLB career with the Cubs, Dodgers and Marlins, Marmol has a 3.57 ERA, 11.6 K/9 and 6.2 BB/9 over 577 innings.



Central Notes: Verlander, Tigers, Cubs, Morris, Pinto, Marmol

Justin Verlander‘s recent struggles are “a giant concern” for the Tigers, writes James Schmel of MLive.com, because Verlander himself admits that he isn’t sure how to fix them. Verlander told reporters that he doesn’t feel he’s at the point in his career where he needs to reinvent himself on the mound, though he acknowledged that he doesn’t have the same velocity he used to have and said he didn’t blame the fans for booing him last night as he left the game. Verlander yielded seven runs on 12 hits last night and has posted a 7.83 ERA with a woeful 26-to-20 K/BB ratio over his last 43 2/3 innings (seven starts). He is averaging a career-worst (though still solid) 92.6 mph on his fastball.

Here’s more on the Tigers and the baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Jon Morosi of FOX Sports hears that the Tigers aren’t planning on making a move to upgrade at shortstop, as they like what they’ve seen from rookie Eugenio Suarez since his promotion to the Majors (Twitter link). It’s tough not to like what they’ve seen from the 22-year-old Suarez, who is hitting .346/.452/.808 with three homers through his first 10 games. Clearly, he’s due for some regression, but the optimism is understandable.
  • An AL scout tells David Kaplan of CSN Chicago that he’s spoken to the Cubs about both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, but he hasn’t gotten any indication from Chicago that any of their other starters are available (Twitter link). That contrasts recent reports that the team would be willing to listen to offers on Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta. Given Jackson’s remaining salary, it seems hard to believe that Chicago wouldn’t be open to moving him.
  • The Pirates weren’t looking to trade right-hander Bryan Morris before trading him to the Marlins, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, Miami expressed interest in the deal after being attracted to an increase in Morris’ velocity and the addition of a two-seam/sinking fastball to his repertoire, and the two sides were able to strike a deal. Pittsburgh received Miami’s Competitive Balance Round A pick (No. 39 overall), used to draft (and sign) Connor Joe, while Miami has been rewarded to this point with 9 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Morris, who has shown greatly improved command.
  • Twins closer Glen Perkins offered some candid comments regarding catcher Josmil Pinto on 1500 ESPN Radio with Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While he was highly complimentary of Pinto’s offensive skills, the left-hander was blunt in his description of Pinto’s defense: “He’s a long, long ways away, to be honest with you. …his pitch framing, he’s got some work to do.” Perkins flatly he said Pinto is “surely not at the big-league level as far as catching for me.” Perkins went on to preach the importance of framing and praise veterans Jonathan Lucroy and Jose Molina for their prowess at the skill. Minnesota recently sent Pinto to the minors to get more consistent at-bats and consistent time behind the plate. He’s spent much of the season DHing while Kurt Suzuki, whose offensive contributions have been somewhat surprising, has done the bulk of the catching.
  • After leaving the Reds organization to take a “mental break,” the representative of reliever Carlos Marmol says that the righty may not look to return this season, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Agent Paul Kinzer told Heyman that Marmol decided to return to the Dominican Republic to deal with unspecified personal issues, and has had no physical problems.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Minor Moves: Rowland-Smith, Hill, Marmol, Pina

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays have released left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith from Triple-A Buffalo (Twitter link). The Australian lefty worked his way back to the Majors earlier this season with the D’Backs — his first big league action since 2010. After being released by Arizona, Rowland-Smith caught on with the Jays and allowed eight runs in 14 innings with a solid 11-to-3 K/BB ratio.
  • The White Sox have acquired righty Shawn Hill from the Blue Jays, according to the International League transactions page. Hill, 33, has seen time in seven MLB seasons, working to a 4.69 ERA in 242 innings, almost entirely as a starter. He last reached the majors in 2012 with the Jays, when he made his first and only relief appearance. Hill made three starts for the Expos back in 2004, and had his best season with the Nationals in 2007, when he worked to a 3.42 ERA in 97 1/3 frames.
  • Reliever Carlos Marmol has been placed on the restricted list by the Reds after leaving the club without permission, according to Jamie Ramsey, the club’s Assistant Director of Media Relations (Twitter link). Marmol came to Cincinnati recently on a minor league deal after he was released by the Marlins, and had allowed three earned runs (with six walks and six strikeouts) through just 3 2/3 frames at Triple-A.
  • The Tigers have acquired catcher Manny Pina from the Mariners in exchange for a player to be named later, according to the MLB transactions page. Detroit has released fellow backstop Luis Exposito in a corresponding move, via the International League transactions page. Pina, 27, has had two brief MLB stints with the Royals. He is hitting .267/.337/.413 through 83 plate appearances at Triple-A Tacoma. Exposito is also a 27-year-old with minimal MLB experience under his belt; he owns a .177/.252/.313 line in 107 plate appearances for Toledo.
  • Brian Barden will continue his career with the indy league Somerset Patriots, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The 33-year-old infielder has seen action in four MLB campaigns with the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, and Marlins, most recently in 2010. He spent last year at Triple-A for the Dodgers before moving to the Mexican League at the start of 2014.
  • MLBTR’s DFA Tracker shows six players in limbo: Jordan Pacheco (Rockies), David Huff (Giants), Jason Kubel (Twins), Trevor Cahill (Diamondbacks), and Wilton Lopez (Rockies).

NL Central Notes: Pirates, Martin, Mills, Cubs, Marmol

The Pirates announced today that Francisco Liriano has been placed on the disabled list with a left oblique strain. Liriano joins ace Gerrit Cole on the market and gives Pittsburgh’s rotation a very different look than it had at the end of the 2013 season when that duo was teaming up with A.J. Burnett to shut down opposing lineups. ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke with officials from several other teams who expect the Bucs to try to trade for a starter with Cole and Liriano now on the shelf (Twitter link).

Here’s a bit more on the Pirates and the rest of the NL Central…

  • Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Joe Starkey of 93.7 The Fan and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the team’s level of interest in re-signing Russell Martin is “very high” (Twitter link). Of course, that doesn’t mean the Pirates will be able to afford Martin, who is coming off a strong season and hitting .269/.409/.394 in 30 games this year.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Brewers lefty Brad Mills can opt out of his minor league deal on Sunday and is having a strong season at Triple-A. Mills has pitched to a 1.57 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 69 innings of work. Rosenthal wonders if the veteran 29-year-old could be of interest to teams looking for a starter.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer spoke with David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link) and said it’s “likely and definitely possible” that the team will spend on veteran players in free agency this offseason. Said Hoyer: “We need to add veterans to the kids that are coming.”
  • Earlier today, the Reds placed Carlos Marmol on the minor league restricted list after he left the team without permission. MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo spoke with Marmol’s agent, Paul Kinzer, about the move (All Twitter links). Said Kinzer: “He decided to take a break and just focus on getting back on track. He’s still healthy and should still be in his prime. His velocity was still in the mid-90’s. I don’t believe the Reds want to release him. He wants to get his confidence back and take a break mentally.”

Reds To Sign Carlos Marmol

The Reds have agreed to terms with free agent right-hander Carlos Marmol on a minor league contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Marmol, a client of the Kinzer Management Group, was released by the Marlins on May 19.

The 31-year-old Marmol signed a low-risk, $1.25MM deal with Miami in the offseason but struggled by allowing 12 runs in 13 1/3 innings (8.10 ERA). He whiffed 14 hitters in that time, displaying his typically strong strikeout rate, but he also displayed his typical erratic nature by walking 10 batters, hitting a batter and throwing two wild pitches. His average fastball velocity of 93.7 mph was nearly as strong as it’s ever been, as at his peak he averaged 94.1 mph.

Marmol was an All-Star for the Cubs back in 2008 and saved 114 games for the team from 2008-12, but his command deteriorated after his first two full seasons in the Majors. He averaged a manageable 4.4 walks per nine innings in that time but has walked 6.8 hitters per nine innings since. His solid velocity and power slider have always allowed him to miss bats at an elite rate, but the Reds will need to do wonders with his command for him to reestablish himself as a reliable late-inning reliever.


Marlins Release Carlos Marmol

The Marlins have released veteran right-hander Carlos Marmol, the team announced via Twitter.  Miami designated Marmol for assignment last week.

Marmol, 31, pitched 13 1/3 innings for the Fish this season, posting an 8.10 ERA and continuing his career pattern of posting high strikeout numbers (9.5 K/9) along with a lack of control (6.8 BB/9).  The righty was able to miss enough bats to deliver a few impressive seasons out of the Cubs bullpen but eventually became too unreliable for the closer’s job.  Chicago dealt him to the Dodgers last July and Marmol then signed a minor league deal with the Marlins during the offseason.

Justin Maxwell (Royals) and Jeff Keppinger (White Sox) are the only players still in DFA limbo, according to the MLBTR DFA Tracker.


Marlins To Designate Carlos Marmol For Assignment

The Marlins will designate Carlos Marmol for assignment, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets. The former Cubs closer signed with Miami in February, then pitched in 13 1/3 innings, posting an 8.10 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 6.8 BB/9.

Marmol has always posted very high walk numbers, but free passes have become especially problematic for him from a stratospheric 16.0 K/9 in 2010 to 10.8 in 2013, and he hasn’t served as a closer since 2012. Both his fastball and his slider have declined in effectiveness over the years as well. He’s still just 31, though, and has good velocity, so teams will undoubtedly continue to be curious about him.


Quick Hits: Bailey, Burnett, Twins, Samardzija

Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri.  Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.

Here are some items from around the baseball world…

  • The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.  "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said.  Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract.  This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal.  Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
  • The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
  • The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter).  Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today.  The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
  • Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive.  The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
  • The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
  • Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link).  Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
  • Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired.  Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career.  Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
  • Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.