The Marlins have agreed to terms on a 1-year contract with former closer Carlos Marmol, who could provide back-end bullpen help for the Marlins and also serve as ninth-inning insurance for Steve Cishek. If he doesn't find a way to throw strikes and record outs, though, he could also bring back hellish memories of Heath Bell. Marmol will receive $1.25 million.
Marmol, 31, served as the Cubs' closer until falling out of favor in that role and getting traded to the Dodgers last July. Marmol saved 38 games in 2010 and 34 in 2011. (See stats here). When he's good, he has filthy stuff, averaging 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings over eight big-league seasons, nearly all of it with Chicago. He was a whiff machine in 2010 when he averaged nearly two K's per inning. But he has also battled major control issues. Over the course of his career, he has walked 385 batters in 563 2/3 innings. Over the past two seasons alone, he has walked 95 batters in only 104 1/3 innings.
But the Marlins were looking for veteran bullpen help, and preferably someone with closing experience, in order to fill the role created by the departure of Chad Qualls.
Marmol must first complete a medical physical before the deal becomes official.
Marmol's bouts with wildness have been well documented (read here, here and here), prompting the Cubs to yank the closer's job from him before sending him to the Dodgers, who left him off their playoff roster.
The Marlins are obviously hoping a change of scenery will help Marmol, and that he'll find spacious Marlins Park more to his liking than the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. But home plate is the same size at one as it is at the other, and Marmol must prove he can throw strikes. Heck, Marmol isn't the only erratic arm Marlins catchers will have to deal with in camp this spring. Don't forget Henry Rodriguez, who signed a minor-league deal earlier this winter.
Marmol becomes the second player to reach agreement with the Marlins this week, joining backup infielder Jeff Baker. To make room for Marmol and Baker, the Marlins will have to lop off two players on their 40-man roster.
He wasn't the only reliever the Marlins reached a deal with on Thursday. They also signed right-hander Chaz Roe to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training. Roe, a former first-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies, appeared in 21 games last season for Arizona, going 1-0 with a 4.03 ERA. He struck out 24 and walked 13 (three intentional) in 22 1/3 innings. The D-Backs designated him for assignment last week to clear roster space. Roe refused the outright assignment and became a free agent.