According to a report by Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago, the Detroit Tigers are one of “several teams” checking in on Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.
Marmol will earn close to $10 million this season and can opt for free agency in November. Marmol can veto a deal to four West Coast clubs, but a source said Marmol would most likely waive that clause knowing he would be traded to a contender.
Marmol is due to be paid like a two win player — a mark he hasn’t reached since 2010 — though there’s a common thought that closer salaries don’t track the same dollars per WAR ratio that most players do. There’s a lengthy rabbit hole we could travel down at this point (but wont), but even if you’re only a mild believer in WAR and if you think there’s value in “proven closers” and saves, you would likely agree with me that Carlos Marmol isn’t the ideal player and that his $10 million price tag is sort of the opposite of a bargain.
It’s unclear what the Cubs are seeking in exchange for Marmol, but they’re reportedly interested in acquiring young pitching, which seemingly makes Rick Porcello an appealing option.
I’m sure the cubs would find that to be an appealing option, but a straight-up swap would be a terrible deal for the Tigers. On one hand we have a young pitcher in his arbitration years who could, at worst, eat 190 innings with an average ERA. On the other hand we have a “closer” who allows walks at nearly double the MLB average rate, has only saved 82% of his career opportunities (Jose Valverde is up around 89%), and is signed for $10 million for one year.
Estimating rather conservatively, Porcello might have something like $5 million of surplus value before he hits free agency, and it looks to me like Marmol has something like negative $5-7 million in surplus value. If the Cubs would insisting on Porcello the Tigers should really just hang up on them, but a fair deal might be the Cubs covering all of Marmol’s 2013 salary while also chipping in a mid-level prospect.
Acquiring Marmol wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for the Tigers — I think he could do just fine if installed as the closer — it’s just that he’s not worth anything in return unless the Cubs are going to eat half or more of his contract. And even then, giving up Porcello for him shouldn’t even be an option.