During Spring Training there was some minor buzz about the possibility that the Tigers might deal for Carlos Marmol of the Cubs to fill their closer void. The buzz was of the “You are desperate to buy? What a coincidence, we are desperate to sell!” variety, and it turned out that the Tigers weren’t really all that desperate to buy and the Cubs weren’t really all that desperate to sell. Times might have changed. Well, they have certainly changed on the Cubs end – you can’t get more “desperate to sell” than a DFA for a guy owed millions and that’s just what the Cubs have done with Carlos Marmol.
The big reasons that all right-thinking Tigers fans were vehemently opposed to the idea of dealing for Marmol months ago were that: A.) he was owed way too much money B.) he wasn’t any better than the Tigers in-house options (particularly Al Alburquerque). Now the Tigers will likely have a shot – should they choose to take it – to pick up Marmol for league minumum with the Cubs picking up the remainder of the tab. What’s more, the discussion in March was about whether or not Marmol should close (the Tigers had plenty of quality candidates for the 7 bullpen spots) and this would not be a relevant issue today. Marmol lost his closer job for the Cubs, pitched poorly enough to get designated and will be the 7th man in the ‘pen for the Tigers or somebody else. As far as whether or not Marmol is better than the Tigers in-house options? Well, he’s certainly not better than Joaquin Benoit as a closer candidate but that isn’t the relevant comparison anymore. The relevant comparison is whether you might rather give him a shot than to watch Luke Putkonen and Evan Reed pitch in clutch situations.
For my own 2 cents, if the Tigers can snag him while giving up nothing I’d like to see them do so. Reed or Putkonen can go back to Toledo for a while (or Alburquerque, if he’s still on a 15 per 9 inning walk pace) and we can see if Marmol can straighten himself out to become something like – if not his 2010 peak – his career average. The only significant difference this season for Marmol is an extremely high HR/FB rate – up to 1 in 5 from a career average of 7.7%. If that normalizes, he’s still a serviceable bullpen arm. As we saw with Joaquin Benoit, that isn’t unusual.