SAN FRANCISCO – Carlos Marmol’s change of scenery could come in Hollywood.
The Cubs are very close to a deal that would send Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers, sources confirmed Monday. That would be some 2,000 miles away from Wrigley Field, where the lightning-rod reliever would get booed as soon as he started warming up in the bullpen.
The Cubs would gain a small amount of payroll savings in the trade. Marmol is still owed roughly half of his $9.8 million salary this season. A few teams inquired after the Cubs designated him for assignment last week, but no one was willing to offer top-shelf prospects in return for someone with a 5.86 ERA.
The Cubs had tried to shop Marmol at least since last August, but found no takers, even as he posted a 1.52 ERA after the All-Star break and put together a streak converting 19 straight saves.
Entering his 14th year in the organization, Marmol reluctantly agreed to waive his limited no-trade rights and accept a deal to the Los Angeles Angels before it fell apart last November over concerns about Dan Haren’s medicals/financials.
[MORE: Epstein ready to make some deals]
Chavez Ravine has a different vibe than Clark and Addison, but the Dodgers are still a win-now team with enormous expectations.
At least Marmol, 30, won’t be the center of attention there. Maybe that will help him rediscover what made him an All-Star setup guy in 2008 and so dominant in 2010, when he notched 138 strikeouts in 77.2 innings. That lights-out performance earned him a three-year, $20 million contract that will expire at season’s end.
Maybe it was the new money, the frequent turnover on the coaching staff or simply the fleeting nature of bullpen careers. Perhaps this was the cost of becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in relief appearances (470), or a mental block after hearing all that booing.
“This is a guy that relied on having one of the most devastating pitches in baseball to be effective,” general manager Jed Hoyer said last week. “That pitch has gone from devastating to simply an OK slider. That’s really been the difference. He’s not injured. He’s really a tough guy physically. He always wants the ball. He never made excuses.
“I just think the biggest difference is he had a wipeout slider for all those years. And whether it was innings or slot or mechanics, he doesn’t have it anymore.”
Also remember that Marmol saved 117 games for the Cubs and helped the organization win division titles in 2007 and 2008.
But Marmol became a trending topic on Twitter for the wrong reasons. The point of no return was a brutal 4-3 loss to the New York Mets on June 16 at Citi Field, where anger seeped into the clubhouse and manager Dale Sveum took the heat on talk shows and across the Internet.
Ex-Cub Aramis Ramirez spoke with Marmol last week as he was processing the news and said his friend expected to be moved this summer but didn’t see a DFA coming. They hang out during the offseason back home in the Dominican Republic. The Milwaukee Brewers third baseman is also the godfather to Marmol’s oldest daughter.
“I’m pretty sure somebody will take him,” Ramirez predicted. “That’s a guy who throws 94-95 (mph) with a good slider. He’s just having a tough year. Hopefully, he gets a fresh start and turns his season around.”