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.

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

With all the off-days in the season's opening month, it's given the Cubs an opportunity to tinker with their rotation.

They're shaking things up with the order again ahead of the three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. The Cubs will roll with Jake Arrieta Friday on CSN, John Lackey Saturday and Kyle Hendricks Sunday. 

Hendricks just threw Tuesday night in the second game of the Pirates series in Pittsburgh. He enjoyed the best start of his 2017 season, allowing six baserunners in six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.50 and WHIP to 1.27.

Despite the strong start, the 2016 MLB ERA leader wasn't willing to say he's "back."

"It's just one start," he told reporters Tuesday night. "It's not a "back" thing. I'm not in the zone, dialed in like I was last year. That was a completely different feeling and sensation.

"[But I] felt a lot better. It's more on track."

Brett Anderson will get an extra day and is on track to start the first game back at Wrigley against the Philadelphia Phillies Monday.

Assuming there are no other changes to the rotation, Jon Lester will follow Anderson before the Arrieta-Lackey-Hendricks trio goes again.

The Cubs won't have another off-day until Thursday, May 11 and are set to play 13 games in 13 days.

Cubs can't complete rally against Pirates in series finale

Cubs can't complete rally against Pirates in series finale

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Gift Ngoepe might not have had the weight of the world on his shoulders but he felt like a continent was counting on him.

Ngoepe, the first African to reach the major leagues, singled in his first plate appearance and Josh Harrison led off the bottom of the first with a home run Wednesday night to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Ngoepe was recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis and entered the game in fourth inning as part of a double switch and finished 1 for 2 with a walk. The 27-year-old South African, who signed with the Pirates in 2008 as an amateur free agent, led off the fourth with a hit off winless Cubs ace Jon Lester.

"To accomplish this only for me but for my country and my continent is something so special," Ngoepe said. "There are 1.62 billion people on our continent. To be the first person out of 1.62 billion to do this is amazing."

It was so special that Ngoepe nearly broke into tears when he trotted from the dugout to take his positon at second base.

"I told myself not to cry because I'm in the big leagues and I'm a big guy now," Ngoepe said with a smile. "(Catcher Francisco) Cervelli hugged me and I could feel my heart beat through my chest."

A year after winning 19 games in helping the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, Lester (0-1) is still looking for his first victory after five starts. The left-hander was tagged for six runs - five earned - and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"It's probably the best I threw the ball all year," Lester said. "That's baseball."

Wade LeBlanc (1-0), who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of rookie Tyler Glasnow, got the win.

The fifth leadoff home run of Harrison's career keyed a two-run first that included an RBI double by Cervelli. Andrew McCutchen and Phil Gosselin hit run-scoring doubles in a three-run third that pushed the Pirates' lead to 5-1.

After the Cubs got within two runs, Josh Bell gave the Pirates a 6-3 lead with a solo home run in the sixth inning off Lester. The rookie first baseman has reached base in 11 straight games.

Anthony Rizzo's two-run homer deep into the right-field stands in the eighth inning off Daniel Hudson drew the Cubs within 6-5. Tony Watson then got the last four outs for his seventh save in as many chances.

Glasnow remained winless in nine career starts, allowing three runs in 3 1/3 innings and requiring 89 pitches to get 10 outs.

Rizzo had four RBIs and Kris Bryant had three hits as the Cubs lost for just second time in eight games while stranding 13 runners. The Pirates won for the third time in nine games.