Friday, February 4, 2011

Is signing Marmol to a multi year contract a good idea?

The rumor is that the Cubs are close to making a deal with their last unsigned arbitration candidate, Carlos Marmol.

The numbers that were given out in the arbitration process:
$4.1 million by the Cubs
$5.65 million by Marmol

Considering the fact the Carlos Marmol had a WAR of 3.1 last season, it would seem like $5.65 would be a steal on the open market.  For a second year arbitration eligible player, though, it would seem to me that Marmol's asking price isn't too outrageous.  I said back in December that Marmol should get $5 million.  So Marmol's number isn't out of whack.

If the Cubs are looking to sign Marmol to a multi-year deal, they should be looking to wrap up Marmol with a deal that will last through his arbitration eligibility which ends in 2012.

So, then, we come down to this question, is it the right move for the Cubs to sign Marmol to a multiyear contract?

It really comes down to what you expect from Marmol in 2011.  If you expect him around as effective as he was in 2010, then you are faced with the reality that you will have to pay Marmol $6 or $7 million next season...maybe even more.  The whole point of signing a player who is arbitration eligible to a multi-year deal is to try to save money.

Right now the Cubs appear to be setting themselves up for major renovation to the roster in 2012 with Ramirez, Fukudome, Grabow, Silva, Pena, and Samardzija all coming off the books after this season.  Added up, (and taking into account option buyouts), that removes $47.7 million from the roster next year.  If you also take into account that I think Marlon Byrd will be traded before 2012, then we can add yet another $5.5 million to that total.

The Cubs will obviously need a first and third baseman as no one in there system appears to be able to fill those positions once Ramirez and Pena leave.  The Cubs want to make every penny available to fill those two spots in 2012.  Signing Marmol now could mean that the Cubs would have an extra couple million available next year to add that big hitting corner infielder.

Let's hope he stays on top of that slider, unlike in this picture.

I admit...I'm being a bit of a hypocrite here.  My general policy is that you never sign a relief pitcher...especially one that isn't a free a multi-year contract.  Relief pitchers, for the most part, are inconstant.  That's why they are relief pitchers.  Only a small percentage of them are reliable from year to year.  My belief is that Carlos Marmol is more likely one of those reliable relievers.  As a result, the likelihood that the Cubs will have to give him a pretty decent sized pay raise next year in arbitration is relatively high.

We almost must assume that the Cubs will not be trading Marmol before the 2012 season.  I don't see any scenario where Marmol isn't in a Cubs uniform next spring.  He has shown very little that should make us concerned that he'll get injured.  They will have to pay him in 2012 one way or the other.

So I'm might be the only person in the world (besides Jim Hendry) that thinks this, but I believe signing Marmol to a 2 year contract extension is a pretty good idea.

With all that said...if the Cubs sign him for more than 2's a bad move.  A two year contract give the Cubs the opportunity, if Marmol plays as well as we should expect, to try to sign him to a longer term deal during the 2012 season to avoid him hitting the open market where his price will become astronomical.