When the Miami Marlins signed former Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol to a one-year deal last week, the organization knew exactly what they were getting. Marmol, who has a reputation of struggling to find the strike zone at times, is not going to be pitching the ninth inning for Miami, and because of that the Marlins are confident in what the veteran can bring to the bullpen.
"If we were signing him to be our closer, but we're not," Marlins Preisdent of Baseball Operations Michael Hill said in a Miami Herald interview when asked if he thought signing Marmol was a gamble. "We're bringing him in to be a solid part of our bullpen. To add this caliber of player was a no-brainer for us."
Marmol spent last season with the Dodgers and posted a 2.53 ERA in 21 games. He walked 19 in 21 1/3 innings, although an inflated walks per nine innings rate has become characteristic of Marmol. The Marlins, upon annoncing the deal, said that he will be used as a setup man to closer Steve Cishek. Carter Capps, acquired from the Mariners in exchange for Logan Morrison, is also thought to be a setup option.
Despite his inconsistencies with Chicago, the Marlins feel fortunate to have been able to sign the 31-year old. Hill thought that the market for Marmol would be significantly larger, and believed that he wouldn't remain unsigned just weeks before Spring Training.
"I'm very surprised we were able to sign him," Hill said.
While acknowledging Marmol's struggles when trying to consistently throw strikes, Hill credited his ability to improve during the second half of last season. A troubling delivery led to the inconsistencies which were repaired, according to Miami's scouting department.
Hill said the Marlins are obviously aware of Marmol’s failures with the Cubs, which mostly stemmed from his inability to throw strikes and walking batters. But Hill also said Marlins scouts liked the improvement they saw in Marmol’s delivery during the second half of last season, after he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, and also when he pitched over the winter in the Dominican Republic.
Marmol will likely join a bullpen featuring Mike Dunn, Dan Jennings, Capps, A.J. Ramos, and Cishek. "From what we saw, closing in the Dominican winter league, it was the guy we saw in Chicago effectiveness wise, the good guy," Hill said, referring to Marmol earlier in his career with the Cubs. "For anybody who had seen him pitch in [Los Angeles], his delivery was cleaned up, he was working more at the plate, there were more strikes - everything was better."