Sean Marshall Rumors

Rockies, Reds Talked Sean Marshall

1:15pm: While talks aren't dead, concerns over Marshall's health could ultimately kill the deal, tweets Renck. The Rockies were "aggressively" pursuing the lefty as recently as last night, he adds.

TUESDAY, 12:39pm: The Rockies and Reds discussed Sean Marshall at length last night, and a trade appeared close at one point, according to Renck. However, those talks have idled for the time being. It's not clear whether the Reds would have included any salary relief to help offset the remaining $12MM on Marshall's deal, Renck adds.

MONDAY: As they search for relief help, the Rockies appear to have shifted their focus from the free agent market to trade talks, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. According to Renck, Colorado is "pushing hard" to acquire a hard-throwing relief pitcher to add to the back end of its bullpen.

Renck noted earlier today that Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour were among the free agent power arms that interested the Rockies, but the price tags on those players and other top relievers will likely be too high for Colorado.

The Rockies' current plan is for LaTroy Hawkins to close games, so the club is looking for another arm to complement Rex Brothers in a setup role. Renck mentions Royals pitchers Wade Davis, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar as possible fits, though Kansas City is far from the only team willing to move relievers.


Central Notes: Reds, Cubs, Morneau

Here are a few notes from around baseball's Central divisions:

  • With the Reds welcoming the division-rival Cubs for a three-game set on the same day that Cincinnati reliever Sean Marshall made another DL trip, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Times looked back on the December 2011 deal between these clubs that put Marshall in the Reds' pen. Travis Wood, the primary piece going to Chicago in that trade, is off to a sparkling start to the year with a 2.24 ERA over 60 1/3 innings. While he has posted a pedestrian 5.8 K/9 to go with 2.8 BB/9, Wood has managed a stellar .928 WHIP this season, good for seventh best among starters, tied with Shelby Miller. (Of course, that mark owes to the lefty's exceedingly low .193 BABIP-against. He sports a career mark of .262; league average currently sits at .292.) Marshall, meanwhile, continues to be effective when he is healthy: he sports an ERA of just over 2.50 over his two seasons in Cincinnati. It is worth noting, as well, that the Reds' rotation is in fine shape thus far without Wood: Cinci starters own the second-best collective ERA in baseball, after the Cardinals.
  • Even if the Cubs have played better than their record, the team is looking up in the standings at a host of strong ballclubs. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the club is already feeling the mid-summer trade deadline, though it remains a ways away. Manager Dale Sveum acknowledged that, while the team is still "trying to put things together where you pull off some streaks … to give yourself a chance to give yourself hope," the team "all know[s] that if we don't, there can be changes." Wittenmyer says that a number of players could be on the trading block, including starters Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, relivers Kevin Gregg and James Russell, and outfielder David DeJesus
  • The Cubs' major offseason acquisition, pitcher Edwin Jackson, has been a disappointment among an otherwise solid rotation. Nevertheless, the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports, Jackson is in no danger of losing his starting role. Sveum said that the team is "going to stick with him," in part due to Jackson's four-year, $52MM deal. Said Sveum: "You've got a commitment there and you've got to stick with the commitment."
  • Twins first bagger Justin Morneau, a soon-to-be free agent, has not engaged in any extension talks with his team, a source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com. As Morneau finishes off his six-year, $80MM deal with Minnesota, he has failed to restore the power that landed him that contract. Morneau slashed .345/.437/.628 over an injury-shortened 2010 season, but registered a .267/.333/.440 line last year and currently sits at .312/.353/.416 over 190 plate appearances this season. 

NL Central Links: Marshall, McCutchen, Francis

The Reds finalized a three-year, $16.5MM contract extension with Sean Marshall earlier today, so now let's check in on the latest from the NL Central…

  • Marshall will earn $4.5MM in 2013, $5.5MM in 2014, and $6.5MM in 2015 according to the AP (via John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer on Twitter). The southpaw can earn $1MM more per year if he closes for the Reds.
  • “We’re obviously very excited about it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon) about Marshall's deal. “When we made the trade for him, we made it intending to extend him. We felt confident we would do that. We wanted to approach it sooner than later.”
  • The Pirates are still willing to work out a long-term extension with Andrew McCutchen, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. McCutchen's camp is looking for something close to the $51MM given to Justin Upton while the club is coming in around $10MM below that.
  • Jeff Francis told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his final decision came between the Reds and Mets (Twitter link). The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati last month.
  • "We saw this coming years ago," said Pirates team president Frank Coonelly to Biertempfel when asked about the new draft spending restrictions. "We pushed money up to make sure we'd be taking advantage of opportunities we had last year and the year before."


Reds Extend Sean Marshall

The Reds announced a three-year extension with lefty reliever Sean Marshall, which runs through 2015.  The contract is worth $16.5MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Rosenthal notes there's $2MM in performance bonuses each year, $1MM for games started and $1MM for games finished.  The 29-year-old has yet to throw a pitch for his new team, having been acquired from the Cubs in a December trade.  Marshall, a client of Meister Sports Management, was already under control through 2012 due to a previous two-year deal.

Marshall

With the new contract, Reds GM Walt Jocketty prevents one of the game's best relievers from reaching free agency after the season.  Since converting to relief full-time in 2010, the lanky southpaw owns a 2.45 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9 over 150 1/3 innings, allowing just four home runs in that span.  Marshall's $16.5MM contract does not represent a discount, matching the high bar set for non-closing relievers by Joaquin Benoit, who signed as a free agent with the Tigers in November 2010.

As MLBTR's extension tracker shows, in recent times five other non-closer relievers have signed extensions heading into contract years: Ryan Madson of the Phillies, Rafael Soriano of the Braves, Dan Wheeler of the Rays, Matt Belisle of the Rockies, and Casey Janssen of the Blue Jays.  That's not to say Marshall won't end up closing if Madson departs the Reds after the season; we'll be monitoring the situation on Twitter @closernews.

For a look at the remaining relievers in the 2012-13 free agent class, check out our list here

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


Reds, Sean Marshall Nearing Agreement On Extension

MONDAY, 10:09am: Fay says Marshall will talk about the extension later today.  For now, the lefty commented, "I can't say anything. But I'm very happy."

SUNDAY, 2:11pm: John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that GM Walt Jocketty also confirmed a deal is close and that the two sides want it done before games start.

MLB.com's Mark Sheldon adds that Jocketty says the deal could be done soon:

“We are talking to him,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Sunday. “It could be done soon. When we traded for him, it was also looking to sign him for the long term.”

11:49am: Marshall confirmed the report, saying that a deal could be worked out by tomorrow, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).

11:16am: The Reds and Sean Marshall are making progress on a multiyear extension and a deal could be announced early this week, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  The left-hander is set to become a free agent after this season.

Marshall, 29, is set to earn $3.1MM in 2012 in the final season of a two-year deal he signed with the Cubs.  MLBTR's Dan Mennella recently looked at what it would take for the Reds to sign him to a new deal and noted that Meister Sports Management will likely use the three-year, $15MM deal lefty Scott Downs signed with the Angels as a starting point.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Cubs Notes: Garza, Wood, LaHair, Marshall

The Cubs agreed to send Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today. The Cubs take on nearly all of Zambrano’s salary, but in doing so they obtain Volstad, a valuable ground ball pitcher who has consistently made his starts since joining the Marlins’ rotation in 2008. He’s arbitration eligible this offseason and under team control through 2014. Before the trade, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined 720 WGN in Chicago for an extended interview. Here are some highlights:

  • Epstein said Matt Garza is a “top of the rotation type” starter. In general, players like Garza can become long-term assets by signing extensions or becoming trade chips, Epstein said. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the Cubs continue asking "for [the] moon" in trade talks about Garza (Twitter link).
  • Rules limiting amateur spending in the new collective bargaining agreement won’t necessarily slow the Cubs down. "It just means we have to be better and more accurate with our drafting than the competition," Epstein said.
  • Epstein said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Kerry Wood. Wood signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter.
  • The Cubs expect to start Bryan LaHair at first base. The 29-year-old posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. He also posted an .885 OPS in 69 plate appearances with the big league club.
  • Epstein addressed Zambrano, saying "change needs to happen and change will happen." Not long after the interview, the Cubs agreed to send the right-hander to Miami.
  • Epstein explained that some disappointing players can recover from poor seasons to produce again. "It's a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real," Epstein said.
  • The Cubs value Sean Marshall, but felt it made sense to trade him for players who can contribute beyond 2012 (Travis Wood and two prospects), especially since Marshall isn't likely to be tied to draft pick compensation next offseason.
  • The Cubs are "very committed" to Carlos Marmol as their closer.

Extension Candidate: Sean Marshall

While Cubs closer Carlos Marmol grabbed attention the past couple years for his staggering strikeout rate and spectacularly excruciating blown saves, North Siders fans and fantasy owners in holds leagues alike will tell you that left-hander Sean Marshall was something of an underappreciated gem in Chicago's bullpen.

Indeed, after struggling as a starter early in his career, Marshall, 29, has settled in nicely as a reliever, serving as a dominant setup man in his two seasons spent exclusively in the bullpen. Last year was his finest, as the southpaw posted a 2.26 ERA, 9.40 K/9, 2.02 BB/9, 57.5% groundball rate and compiled 2.8 WAR. Apparently, the Cubs' division rivals took note, as Marshall changed uniforms within the NL Central in December, joining the Reds in a seemingly out-of-nowhere trade that sent Travis Wood back to the Cubs.

Marshall is set to earn $3.1MM in 2012 and is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, although Reds GM Walt Jocketty indicated that Marshall's foray into the open market may never come to fruition: "No guarantees, but we're going to try to sign him." Interestingly, Jocketty also said the Reds have not yet deterimed Marshall's role and left open the possibility of the left-hander closing, contingent upon whether they sign someone else to handle the ninth.

While we could debate the merits of strict bullpen distinctions such as "setup men" and "closers," the fact is that pitchers in those respective groups are usually compensated differently. So the uncertainty regarding Marshall's role and the Reds' interest in, or ability to, procure a so-called closer may be more than a minor footnote to the trade, at least with respect to Marshall's next contract.

If Marshall and his representatives at Meister Sports Management are amenable to signing an extension now – and reading the tea leaves from Jocketty's comments, they might be – they'll likely use the three-year, $15MM deal lefty Scott Downs signed with the Angels last offseason as a starting point in negotiations. And in light of the big contracts relievers have been securing this offseason, an annual average salary of $5MM is probably modest, so it could be bumped up from there.

The bird-in-hand philosophy could probably make Marshall a wealthy man before he even throws a pitch in 2012, but if he wants to leave open the possibility of getting paid like a closer, he could opt to play out his contract year. This would be an especially risky tack for a reliever, who are notoriously volatile from year to year, but could prove lucrative if Marshall is thrust into closing, approximates his 2011 numbers and hits free agency as a 30-year-old coming off a season in which he sewed up 35 or 40 saves.

While there are a few conditions that have to fall into place in that scenario for Marshall before we get ahead of ourselves, it's worth noting that Ryan Madson basically followed a similar arc and positioned himself for a windfall heading into this offseason.


Jocketty On Marshall, Cordero, Brackman

The Reds acquired shutdown lefty Sean Marshall from the Cubs for three young players earlier today, and they also claimed righty Josh Judy off waivers. GM Walt Jocketty spoke to reporters about the moves and more this afternoon, so let's recap…

  • The two sides first talked about a potential Marshall trade during the GM meetings in November, reports Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald (Twitter links). Jocketty joked that his team couldn't figure out how to hit Marshall, so they decided to trade for him.
  • "No guarantees, but we're going to try to sign him," said Jocketty when asked about a long-term contract for Marshall according to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). The southpaw can become a free agent after the 2012 season.
  • Jocketty said if they don't sign a closer, it's a "possibility" that they'll use Marshall in that role according to Fay (on Twitter). He acknowledged that they are still talking to Francisco Cordero about a possible return.
  • “After the first of the year, we’ll take a look at some things," said Jockett to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon). "We still want to address our bench, maybe left field and see what we can do.”
  • Within Sheldon's piece, he also reports that the Andrew Brackman signing is not yet official, but it should be done any day now. "I’m not sure what’s holding it up to be honest," said the GM.

Epstein On Pitching, Sean Marshall, Matt Garza

The Cubs completed the Sean Marshall trade today, sending the lefty to the Reds for three young players. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke to reporters after the deal was finalized, discussing a few different topics. Let's recap…

  • "I don't think we are done," said Epstein according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago. "I do think we still need to build more depth on the starting pitching front, both in the big leagues and minor leagues."
  • "[The Marshall trade] fits our general direction," said Epstein while citing the new collective bargaining agreement as one reason behind the deal, according to Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). The Cubs could have lost Marshall to free agency after next season without getting draft pick compensation under the new agreement.
  • "[Matt Garza is] exactly type of pitcher we want to build around" said Epstein according to Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times (on Twitter). He added that his current mode is "to listen on everybody."
  • "We're not rushing into anything with [Garza]," added Epstein according to Wittenmyer (on Twitter). They're still weighing the right-hander's trade value against a possible contract extension.
  • Yesterday we heard that the Cubs were planning a "complete and total rebuild" and will attempt to trade "most of their valuable assets" before Spring Training.

Reds Acquire Sean Marshall For Travis Wood, Others

The Reds have already improved their starting rotation with the addition of Mat Latos this offseason, and now they've bolstered the bullpen. In a rare intra-division trade, Cincinnati has acquired lefty reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs for Travis WoodDave Sappelt, and Ronald Torreyes. Both teams have announced the trade.

Icon_12006098Marshall, 29, has established himself as one of the game's top left-handed relievers. He posted a 2.26 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 57.5% ground ball rate in 2011. He'll earn $3.1MM during the 2012 season, after which he's eligible for free agency. The Reds have been looking for a closer, but it's not clear how they'll use Marshall and how his presence will affect Cincinnati's interest in relievers such as Francisco Cordero.

Wood is a 24-year-old left-hander who's under team control through 2016. He posted a 4.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 32.1% ground ball rate in 106 innings for the Reds this past season. Though he added value in '11, he didn't match his 2010 numbers: a 3.51 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings.

Sappelt, a 24-year-old outfielder, hit .243/.289/.318 in 118 plate appearances for Cincinnati last year, his big league debut. He produced a .313/.377/.458 batting line in 336 plate appearances for their Triple-A affiliate in 2011. Torreyes, a 19-year-old infielder, posted a .356/.398/.457 batting line in 306 plate appearances at the Low Class-A level this past season. Baseball America ranked Sappelt and Torreyes as the Reds'20th and 22nd best prospects in last year's Prospect Handbook, respectively.

Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago broke the news of the trade agreement while ESPN's Keith Law later added details (on Twitter). Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.