NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Cubs already asked Carlos Marmol to waive his no-trade rights last month, when they thought they were closing in on a deal with the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren.
That fell apart, but Marmol already appeared to be on borrowed time with the Cubs, because hes entering the final year of his contract and the front office is looking for long-term assets. Signing Kyuji Fujikawa wont quiet the speculation inside the Gaylord Opryland during the winter meetings.
Team officials havent commented on the Japanese closer, who has to take a physical before his two-year, 9.5 million deal (plus an option) becomes official. Marmol is owed 9.8 million in 2013. But there still could be room for both at the back end of the Cubs bullpen.
Even if we add a setup-type reliever or somebody with closing experience, Carlos is our closer, team president Theo Epstein said Monday. He had a really good second half of the season. Were just trying to deepen the pen if we can and turn it from a weakness to a strength.
The Cubs arent looking to just give away Alfonso Soriano either. Theres still the 36 million left on his megadeal, plus his preferences about geography and playing for a contender.
But Sorianos trade value may never be higher after a season in which he generated 32 homers and 108 RBIs and changed the perception of who he is as a player.
For those of us who were new here, he really won us over right away with his work ethic and his preparation and the way he served as a bit of a veteran presence and a role model for some of the younger players, Epstein said. I had different expectations coming from the outside. Looking back on it, I dont even really know why. But he was an excellent clubhouse presence for us, so we value his contribution. We value what he does for the Cubs.
At the same time, we had dialogue with him throughout the course of the season because sometimes it makes sense to listen. He has no-trade rights, so well keep him informed if theres the right fit for the Cubs where we can get better over the long haul. And if its the right fit for Sori where its a place that he wants to go and feels like he might have a better chance to win the World Series next year. Then maybe it will make sense to pursue.
Across the next three days, there will be whispers about Soriano in the lobbies, and tweets about possible fits. But the Cubs are sticking to their talking points.
We really value what hes done here, Epstein said. And weve been open with him about the fact that: Hey, well listen if theres something that makes sense for everyone, well come to you.