The Cubs and Carlos Marmol will not be heading to arbitration, as they have agreed to a new contract valued at three years and $20 million. The deal represents a nice raise for Marmol (from roughly $2 million last season to $3 million this year, then $7 million and nearly $10 million in the years henceforth), while also serving to buy out his first year of free agency. In that sense, it differs from the often-maligned multi-year deals handed out to various relievers this offseason, as the Cubs are essentially tacking a season onto their current agreement while sacrificing cash and the ability to non-tender Marmol.
Of course, there is no reason to think they would have to non-tender Marmol anytime soon. Using WXRL, Marmol has ranked as the sixth, 17th, and sixth most valuable reliever over the last three seasons. He’s done so while having some of the most extreme and bizarre rate statistics you’ll ever see. In 2010 alone, he struck out 16 batters while walking 6 per nine innings pitched. Those numbers ft in snug with his career rates through the 2009 season too (10.6 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9) so Marmol’s ride on the wild side is nothing new.
Despite his extreme peripherals, PECOTA still sees good things from Marmol and forecasts him to finish with a 3.20 ERA while comparing him to Armando Benitez, Brad Lidge, and Francisco Rodriguez. Those three are either good or bad company, depending on the seasons offered as each has experienced the highs and lows that come with being a high-leverage reliever in a big market.
Regression foresees Marmol’s strikeout rate dipping to the point where he’s only striking out 12 batters per nine instead of 16. It’s worth noting that Marmol is the only reliever with 30-plus innings to ever strike out more than 15 per nine in a single season, so expecting some fallback from that historic point is a given. Lidge and Rodriguez actually came close themselves, giving credence to the comparisons. Lidge struck out 14.9 per nine in 2004 while Rodriguez had four consecutive seasons over 12 Ks per nine, including one as high as 13.2.
Barring injury, and given the contracts handed out to lesser relievers this offseason, locking Marmol up for an extra year seems like a worthwhile move on Jim Hendry’s part.