Carlos Marmol Rumors

NL Notes: Dodgers, Phillies, Zambrano, Marmol

If you're looking for some good reading over your Saturday morning coffee, here are a few nice leftovers from yesterday: Writing for Fangraphs, MLBTR contributor Marc Hulet broke down the position players who will participate in the MLB Futures Game. MLB.com's Corey Brock had the story of former third-overall pick Donavan Tate's attempt to revive his injury- and addiction-plagued career. Writing for the Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown discussed the decline in MLB and MiLB PED suspensions thus far in 2013. And as the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin reports, youth baseball is experiencing what could be an inner-city renaissance in Washington, D.C. On to some National League notes:

  • Dodgers fans are probably still reeling from last night's beating, the team's worst home loss (Twitter link) since the franchise played in Brooklyn. But with the club's offense pointing upwards of late and with just six games to make up in a scuffling NL West, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that L.A. still could be looking to buy pitching. He says that the Dodgers cannot depend on a mix of Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, Ted Lilly, and Matt Magill at the back of the rotation, and would be even more foolish to place their faith in Brandon League, Peter Moylan, and Matt Guerrier with late-inning pen roles. 
  • While the Phillies continue to hang around just under .500, speculation has focused on whether the club might deal top arms Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wonders whether the club might be more likely to look to deal infielders Chase Utley or Michael Young, in spite of the no-trade protection that both enjoy. With Utley and Young set to become free agents after the season, a clear fall away from contention would make it difficult to pass up a youth infusion. On the other hand, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that his "intention would be to keep [Utley] in our uniform for the rest of his career, if possible." Should the Phils look to deal, Knobler suggests that the Yankees could be in on both players, with the Royals potentially interested in Utley. 
  • One player that Philadelphia was hoping might provide a boost was mid-season signee Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano's inconsistent performance in minor league action had already dampened any real enthusiasm for his ascension to the bigs, but he took the Triple-A mound last night hoping to convince Amaro that a call-up was warranted in advance of his July 1 opt-out date. Instead, Zambrano left the game with what Amaro called "serious pain" in his shoulder. As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports via Twitter, the injury means that Zambrano's already-uncertain big league return will now definitely not occur for the foreseeable future.
  • Embattled Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, who currently sits in DFA limbo, may be able to draw some kind of trade return after all. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that three unnamed teams have shown some interest in Marmol. 

NL Central Links: Cole, Hellweg, Marmol, Cubs

Yesterday the Cubs finally parted ways with embattled former closer Carlos Marmol, and they also cut ties with Ian Stewart after his harsh Twitter outburst against the team earlier this month. Here's more out of the NL Central…

  • Pirates general manager Neal Huntington wouldn't say whether or not Gerrit Cole is on an innings limit for his rookie season when asked by Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Huntington did hint, however, that the Pirates try to prepare their minor leaguers to "log innings without the media attention that some have gotten," which seems to be an allusion to Stephen Strasburg's case last season.
  • The Brewers will promote Johnny Hellweg to replace the injured Alfredo Figaro, reports MLB.com's Kevin Massoth. The 24-year-old right-hander will be the second player from last summer's Zack Greinke trade with the Angels to appear for the Brewers (the other, of course, being Jean Segura). Hellweg, the Crew's No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America, had a 2.82 ERA but a meager 1.14 K/BB ratio in 76 2/3 Triple-A innings.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com that Marmol had become a distraction, and it was time to move on. Hoyer had been trying to deal Marmol since last August (Twitter link).
  • Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald notes (on Twitter) that it's likely the Cubs will simply release Marmol, as they're unlikely to be able to find any takers in a trade.
  • Hoyer also told Muskat that he or president Theo Epstein has been in contact with every other GM in the game over the past four to five days as they prepare for the trade deadline rush (Twitter link).

Cubs Designate Carlos Marmol; Release Ian Stewart

The Cubs finally pulled the plug on longtime reliever Carlos Marmol today, announcing they've designated him for assigment.  The team also announced the suspension of third baseman Ian Stewart was settled and upheld, and he was granted his unconditional release.  The team selected the contract of outfielder Brian Bogusevic to replace Marmol.

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Marmol had become a symbol for the Cubs' struggles this year, with a 5.86 ERA, 6.8 BB/9, and 1.95 HR/9 in 27 2/3 innings.  He began the season as the team's closer, apparently as a way of building trade value, but lost the job after allowing five runs in his first three outings.  Marmol, a converted catcher/outfielder, joined the team's bullpen in 2007, snagged an All-Star nod in '08, and ascended to the Cubs' closing job late in 2009.  He peaked in 2010, striking out nearly 42% of batters faced while racking up 38 saves.  That season earned him a three-year, $20MM extension in February 2011.  Marmol had always had major problems with walks, and now the team will eat the remaining $5MM+ on that ill-advised contract.  During November of last year, it seemed like Marmol was headed to the Angels for Dan Haren before the Cubs pulled the plug and the Halos declined Haren's club option.

Stewart's departure was inevitable after a June 11th Twitter rant criticizing the team for letting him "rot" in Triple-A, where he's authored a .168/.286/.372 line since returning from a quad injury.  The Cubs handed him a ten-game suspension without pay for the comments for violating the loyalty clause in his contract.  The Cubs had non-tendered Stewart in December and re-signed him for $2MM later that month.  Given that he cleared outright waivers in May, teams were not anxious to take on his salary, nor was Stewart willing to abandon the money and elect free agency at that time.  The Cubs ultimately recoup about $110K of Stewart's salary, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Bogusevic, 29, was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, as was this post's author.  The Cubs signed him to a minor league deal in November, and the former first-round pick posted a .319/.418/.512 line with 10 home runs in 304 Triple-A plate appearances this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



Quick Hits: Appel, Padres, Jimenez, 2014 Draft

Despite reports over the weekend that the Astros and first overall pick Mark Appel have already agreed to terms on a below-slot contract, GM Jeff Luhnow today told reporters (including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire) that nothing is official and he has yet to meet with Appel or advisor Scott Boras.  "We're trying to move it as fast as we can," Luhnow said. "We wanted to give [Appel] the weekend to enjoy his commencement. We're optimistic we can move it pretty quickly."  Luhnow said he hoped that Appel would be signed by as soon as this week.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • Virtually all of the players recently extended by the Padres have struggled, so Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune said the team might look for future extension candidates to prove themselves more fully before signing them to multiyear deals.  Center also discusses several other Padres topics as part of the online chat with fans. 
  • Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, favored to receive the largest bonus of the coming international signing period, is profiled by Baseball America's Ben Badler.  Jimenez, a 16-year-old with a 6'4", 200-pound frame, was reported to be a major target for the Cubs by Badler last month, and Chicago is still in "heavy pursuit" of the prospect.  Two of the several scouts and international directors who comment in Badler's piece cite Jermaine Dye as a comparable for Jimenez.
  • With the 2013 amateur draft just barely in the books, ESPN.com's Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required) looks ahead to the 2014 draft, which could be headlined by two NC State products. 
  • FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi looks at ten players who have helped their trade value in recent weeks.  Three of those players (Jesse Crain, Yovani Gallardo and Bud Norris) have recently had their trade stock examined as part of MLBTR's Trade Candidate series.
  • In the video link atop that previous post, Morosi cites the Blue Jays, Padres and Phillies as being "right on the fence" as to whether or not they'll be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.  If the three teams do decide to sell, plenty of arms will be available — Morosi lists Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Eric Stults, Jason Marquis, Jonathan Papelbon and Cliff Lee as possible trade chips.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said he has no intention of releasing embattled reliever Carlos Marmol, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports.  Manager Dale Sveum said the same yesterday after Marmol allowed four ninth-inning runs in a 4-3 Cubs loss to the Mets.  Marmol has a 6.08 ERA in 26 2/3 IP this season.

Quick Hits: Cubs, Zambrano, Amaro, McDonald

Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his team has no intention of releasing struggling reliever Carlos Marmol and eating the rest of his $9.8MM salary, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs," says Sveum. "But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." Marmol allowed four runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Mets 4-3 on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the National League.

  • The Cubs' bullpen has struggled this season, but in the aftermath of this summer's trading season, the team's rotation could end up being just as weak, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Last season, the Cubs performed poorly down the stretch after the departures of two productive starters in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. This year, Wittenmyer says, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could be those pitchers' 2013 equivalents.
  • Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled Saturday, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Carlos Zambrano won't be replacing Pettibone right away, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. "Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind," says Amaro. "I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind." Zambrano has an out clause July 1. He allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, striking out five and walking four. His fastball did not exceed 88 MPH.
  • Speaking of Amaro, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues that "the bad has outweighed the good" in Amaro's stint as GM, and that it's unclear whether Amaro is the right person for the job. Amaro's signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Hunter Pence rank among his worst moves, Brookover says.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington says James McDonald's future with the team could be in jeopardy, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price writes in a pair of tweets. "As the clock ticks we’ll have to make a determination as to where James best fits in this group, on this club, or does he fit," says Huntington. "That’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald." McDonald, once viewed as a potential franchise building block after promising seasons in 2010 and 2011 and a great first half in 2012, has fallen out of favor after collapsing down the stretch last year and posting a 5.76 ERA with 20 walks in six 2013 starts. He has also struggled in his rehab starts since landing on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort.
  • If the Blue Jays had already acquired Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins, they wouldn't have signed Maicer Izturis, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues. Izturis signed a three-year, $10MM deal in November, and the Jays acquired Reyes and Bonifacio days later. Izturis has hit .222/.258/.308 this season.

Cubs Notes: Feldman, Draft, Marmol, Stewart, Jackson

The Cubs are 12-20 on the season, good for the second-worst record in the National League.  On the plus side, four of their five starting pitchers have performed well, and the team has shown surprising power in the early going.  The latest on the North Siders:

  • Scott Feldman is a name to keep in mind leading up to the trade deadline and in free agency after the season, writes ESPN's Buster Olney, after the 30-year-old pitched seven strong innings to defeat his former Rangers teammates last night.  Feldman has a 2.70 ERA through his first six starts, but should his peripheral stats remain steady, SIERA suggests something around 4.30 would be a better bet moving forward. 
  • The Cubs have not missed a start from college righties Mark Appel or Jonathan Gray, but they have expanded their search beyond those two, GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM yesterday.  The Cubs draft second overall next month, and despite Hoyer's lip service, they're widely expected to take Appel or Gray after the Astros pick.
  • Asked by reporters why reliever Carlos Marmol continues to get chances, Hoyer instead offered that Marmol has been "ridden hard by a number of managers here" as an explanation for the former closer's struggles (via Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com).  Given his $9.8MM guaranteed salary, the Cubs are presumably reluctant to release Marmol.
  • Asked whether $52MM man Edwin Jackson is a candidate for the bullpen when Matt Garza returns, Hoyer ducked the question, noting that surplus starting pitching "always seems to take care of itself and we're a ways away from having to deal with that kind of issue."  Rogers feels that allowing Jackson to stay in the rotation due to his contract, at the expense of a better-performing starter, sends a poor message to the team.  I wonder, though, what kind of message would be sent to future free agents if the Cubs make a large four-year commitment to a pitcher and demote him to the bullpen after fewer than ten starts.  Regarding Hoyer's comment, the Cubs are really only two healthy weeks away from having to deal with the rotation surplus, as Garza should be ready to return after two more rehab starts.
  • "An apparent lack of commitment" is behind Ian Stewart taking his allowed 72 hours to report to the Cubs' Triple-A Iowa team on his optional assignment, since Stewart had already been playing with the club on his rehab assignment, opines Rogers.  Stewart, earning $2MM this year, recently finished rehabbing a left quad injury.  UPDATE: Stewart did report back with Iowa yesterday, tweets Rogers.
  • Padres third baseman Chase Headley "would be perfect for the Cubs," suggests Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Cubs have three premium position player prospects in Javier Baez, Albert Almora, and Jorge Soler, and for me it's difficult to picture a Headley trade without one of them and equally difficult to imagine Hoyer and Theo Epstein parting with one during a non-contending season.

Quick Hits: Scioscia, Brantley, Cosart, Marmol, Garza

Today is Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican heritage, pride, and culture. The holiday traces its roots to the Battle of Puebla in 1862 where the undermanned Mexican army defeated the French, regarded as having the world's premier army at the time. More than 100 Mexican nationals have played Major League baseball, including Cardinals' lefty Jaime Garcia and Brewers' righty Marco Estrada. The pair squared off against each other at Miller Park this afternoon in the first-ever matchup between two Mexican-born starting pitchers on Cinco de Mayo and the 37th such meeting overall (per the Brewers via the Elias Sports Bureau). Garcia was masterful scattering eight hits across eight innings in the Cardinals' 10-1 victory. Estrada, meanwhile, channelled the French army allowing eight runs and six hits while issuing a career-high five walks (two with the bases loaded). Adding insult to injury, Chorizo lost the Sausage Race (h/t Adam McCalvy of MLB.com via Twitter). Por otras partes en béisbol:

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com believes Angels manager Mike Scioscia needs a fresh start and proposes the Dodgers as the most obvious possibility. Rosenthal notes owner Artie Moreno would recoil at the idea of Scioscia managing the crosstown rivals, but the Angels would be better for it if they could obtain a significant player or two in a John Farrell-style trade. 
  • Indians outfielder Michael Brantley hasn't heard anything about contract negotiations and that's by design, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. "Once the season starts, it's time for me to concentrate on baseball," Brantley said. "I don't need distractions like that. If my agents have anything going on, they'll get in touch with me."
  • The Astros have dropped Erik Bedard from the starting rotation and need a starter for Friday's game against the Rangers. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart doesn't sense the Astros are in a rush to start the service clock of top prospect Jarred Cosart, who is 3-0 with a 2.63 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 27 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Cosart's next scheduled start is tomorrow night. 
  • Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, Carlos Marmol's status remains unchanged a day after he failed to retire any of the three batters he faced (two walks and one HBP). "Obviously he had a bad outing and couldn’t throw strikes," said Sveum. "Like I said he’s one of the seven guys, and he’s got to pitch, and we’ll get him back out there in some fashion. You can’t hide people. They have to pitch." Marmol pitched a perfect sixth inning today.
  • Matt Garza will pitch his second minor league rehab start tomorrow for Triple-A Iowa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, is scheduled to throw three innings.

Quick Hits: Mets, Brignac, Stewart, Marmol

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tells Andrew Kahn that his favorite scoop was his early reporting on the Angels' discussions with Albert Pujols. A tip of the cap to Metsblog for the link to the Rosenthal interview. Michael Baron discussed (and generally concurred with) Rosenthal's opinion that the Mets will not be contenders until at least 2015, in spite of the team's promising young arms. Here are a few more notes from around baseball:

  • Reid Brignac says he is grateful to the Rays organization for sending him to the Rockies before spring training, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The infielder says that he "could see the signs right in front of me" that he was a longshot to make the Tampa Bay roster. With a full spring to prove himself, Brignac managed to make an infield-heavy Rockies opening day roster. While Brignac has only seen 42 plate appearances, and has slugged just .324 in his limited opportunities, he has been able to get on base at a .325 clip.
  • Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart has been optioned to Triple-A, making his demotion official. Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-TImes quotes Cubs manager Dale Sveum as saying that Stewart is in the minors "as a triple A player now," with Cody Ransom and Luis Valbuena being the Cubbies' third base options. Stewart struggled mightily at the top level of the minors while rehabilitating a strained quad. Still just 28, Stewart has failed to return to the level he reached during his promising 2009-10 seasons, when he showed 20-home run power at a young age. Meanwhile, the Cubs still have little to show for their investment in the former first-round pick, who barely cleared the Mendoza line last year. In addition to paying Stewart over $4MM over the last two seasons (after non-tendering but re-signing him this offseason), the Cubs gave the Rockies Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to acquire him.
  • The notion that Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol can build up any trade value is preposterous, tweets David Kaplan of CSN Chicago. Marmol was yanked in the eighth inning today after allowing two walks and hitting a batter, which led to two runs to break open a tie ballgame. After today's implosion, Marmol has more walks than strikeouts after throwing 11 2/3 innings.

Chicago Notes: Marmol, Tigers, Soriano, Floyd

ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine held his weekly chat with fans today and discussed several topics about both Windy City teams, including these hot stove items…

  • A source on the Tigers told Levine that the club wasn't interested in acquiring Carlos Marmol.  Levine recently reported that Detroit was one of several teams who were looking at Marmol.  There has been much speculation that the Tigers are looking for relief pitching to help their unsettled closing situation.
  • There is currently "no movement" on the Marmol trade front.  Levine doesn't think Marmol or Alfonso Soriano will be traded given the injuries that have hit the Cubs this spring.
  • The Cubs are looking for extra pitching depth and a utilityman who can play both the infield and outfield.
  • The White Sox will keep Gavin Floyd at least until July and perhaps beyond depending on where they are in the pennant race, Levine opines.  Floyd was rumored to be on the trade block earlier this winter and could be the odd man out of the Sox rotation if John Danks is healthy.  
  • Earlier today on MLBTR, Ben Nicholson-Smith reviewed the White Sox offseason.

Cubs Told Carlos Marmol’s Agent To Expect Trade

Top Cubs officials have told Carlos Marmol's representatives at Kinzer Management Group to expect a trade this season, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  However, Marmol won't be going anywhere in the next couple of weeks, despite the increasing trade talk surrounding him.

Theo Epstein & Co. could look to move the closer once he presumably re-establishes his trade value this summer and  Kyuji Fujikawa shows that he has adjusted to the majors.  Some people in baseball have doubts about Marmol's ability to be the go-to guy in the ninth and one high-level evaluator for a contending team told Wittenmyer that he feels the veteran simply can't close.

Marmol, 30, is set to earn $9.8MM in the final year of his contract.  Several teams have reportedly inquired on the veteran, including the Tigers.