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.