Marmol-Haren trade falls apart between Cubs and Angels

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Marmol-Haren trade falls apart between Cubs and Angels

The Cubs appeared to be jumping into the offseason with a bold, decisive move, on the verge of trading closer Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren, according to multiple reports. But a source said late Friday night that the rumored trade is not happening.

With the Angels facing a deadline to pick up Harens 15.5 million option (they ultimately declined), Marmol leaked word by telling a media outlet back home in the Dominican Republic. At the time, the Cubs would not comment or confirm the deal and maintained their cone of silence.

The Cubs also once thought they had a deal in place to send Ryan Dempster to the Atlanta Braves last summer before it exploded all over Twitter and collapsed.

The Cubs still have a huge hole in their rotation, as well as money to spend and a preference for short-term commitments. Landing Haren would have qualified as a splash for a front office thats cautiously building for the future while trying to put a decent product on the field.

Haren went 12-13 with a 4.33 ERA last season while pitching through some back issues. The 32-year-old right-hander would have had a platform on the North Side, where the Cubs could have suddenly had another frontline arm to go with Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza. Harens a three-time All-Star who appeared in the Cy Young voting as recently as 2011.

On his personal Twitter account, Garza wished Marmol good luck and said he was looking forward to working with Haren: Gonna be tough to replace a closer like Marmol, for sure! But adding another horse to the stable gives us innings we sorely need!

Its unclear how exactly the talks broke down. The tick-tock updates on social media couldnt have helped close a deal, and this presumably would have involved a significant amount of money changing hands.

Marmol was believed to have received some limited no-trade protection when he agreed to a 20 million extension at the beginning of spring training in 2011, though he reportedly accepted going to the Angels.

Marmol is owed 9.8 million in the final year of his contract, and his days appear to be numbered in the organization where hes spent almost half his life.

For all the anxiety he caused in the ninth inning, Marmol converted 19 straight save chances during one stretch last season, and posted a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break.

But team president Theo Epstein ideally views the closers job as a chance to give an opportunity to a young reliever from within, or build value after buying low on a free agent.

With the offseason in front on them, the Cubs could still go in that direction.

Marmol signed with the Cubs as a teenager in 1999, and had to be talked into pitching after a few seasons struggling as a catcheroutfielder. He eventually emerged as an All-Star setup guy, and at times a dominant closer, saving 115 games while keeping everyone guessing where his slider was going.

Ifwhen Marmol leaves, there will be only two players remaining from the 2008 team that won 97 games Alfonso Soriano and Jeff Samardzija while Epstein rebuilds the organization in his image.

If the deal had gone through, the next Cubs closer would have been in the same situation as Haren: Bounce back and become a major part of a surprise team that makes it an interesting summer, or get flipped at the trade deadline for prospects. Stay tuned.

Joe Maddon doesn’t have any concerns about new Cubs closer Wade Davis

Joe Maddon doesn’t have any concerns about new Cubs closer Wade Davis

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs studied all the MRIs and analyzed every pitch Wade Davis threw last season, poring over the information on the All-Star closer. During the winter meetings, Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore even took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to give Davis a physical exam.  

The Jorge Soler trade wouldn’t be announced until athletic trainer PJ Mainville met with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Cubs got another read on the flexor strain in his right forearm that twice put Davis on the disabled list last season.

Davis now has a 19.64 ERA through five Cactus League appearances – and the complete confidence of a manager who isn’t connecting those dots.

“The injury’s really not an issue,” Joe Maddon said Sunday at the Sloan Park complex. “He feels really good right now. He kind of thought that whole thing was a little bit overblown last year, according to (what he told) me. Because even in talking to him in the offseason: ‘I’m fine. I’m good. I feel really good.’”

Maddon managed the Tampa Bay Rays while Davis broke into the big leagues as a starter and began the transition to reliever. Everything clicked in Kansas City’s bullpen, with Davis blowing away hitters and notching the last out of the 2015 World Series.

“I’m watching him,” Maddon said. “He’s throwing the ball really well easily. That’s what’s really encouraging to me. From the side, there’s no bumping and grinding and…” Maddon made a grunting noise to illustrate his point: “There’s none of that. It’s easy. I look up at the gun and I’m seeing 94, 95 and sometimes 96 (mph). It’s like: Wow, I have never seen him do that in camp.”

Across the last three seasons, Davis allowed three home runs while piling up 234 strikeouts in almost 183 innings. This spring, he has twice gotten only one out, like Saturday’s 29-pitch, four-run appearance against the Colorado Rockies. Overall in March, he’s given up eight earned runs, nine hits and five walks in 3.2 innings.  

“Honestly, I’ve known him long enough that it’s not” a concern, Maddon said. “You’re not going to believe this, but he’s actually throwing better than he normally does in spring training. The biggest problem he’s having right now is command.

“Velocity looks good. The break on the breaking ball looks good. He’s just not throwing the ball where he wants it. And this guy is normally the kind of pitcher that can dot it up really well.

“But everything else looks really good to me, (because) I had him back with the Rays and in spring training you always saw him throwing like 86, 87, 88 (mph). I’m seeing easy 94-95. I’m seeing sharp break on some breaking stuff. It’s just bad counts and bad command right now.”

This isn’t the Cubs saying Carlos Marmol or Jose Veras is our closer. A guy with a 0.84 ERA in 23 career playoff appearances doesn’t care about Cactus League stats. As long as Davis is healthy, there should be no doubts about the ninth inning. Check back next week amid the sea of red at Busch Stadium.

“A lot of it’s just an adrenaline rush sometimes,” Maddon said. “A lot it’s just a moment that you can’t recreate here. You can’t do it. It’s impossible.”

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night

MESA, Ariz. – The Cubs expect Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell to be ready for Opening Night, downplaying any health concerns about their All-Star middle infielders. 

One week out from facing the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, manager Joe Maddon spent part of Sunday's media session saying how he had no concerns with his World Series MVP's stiff neck and his franchise shortstop's stiff back.

"You can tell with 'Zo,'" Maddon said at the Sloan Park complex. "He'll come around and let me know specifically if he feels it's going to be anything longer than that. He's talking either tomorrow night or the next day."

Zobrist, who spent nine seasons with Maddon's Tampa Bay Rays, hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game since March 19. Maddon also signaled Russell is close to returning to action after being a late scratch from Friday's lineup.

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Not like this, but the Cubs already planned to schedule extra rest for Zobrist, given his age (36 in May), the playoff stress on his body from back-to-back World Series titles and emerging options like Javier Baez on a mix-and-match team. 

All along, Maddon hasn't worried about finding enough at-bats for Baez, knowing that injuries are inevitable and the Cubs have insurance policies up and down the roster that should pay off across a 162-game season. But in this case, it doesn't sound like the Cubs are testing that theory with Zobrist and Russell.

"None of this stuff is really threatening," Maddon said. "The trainers have no real strong issues with anything. It's almost like you'll be overly cautious right now. And that's all we're doing."