The reviews are in, and it looks like the Red Sox got the steal of the spring by signing right-handed reliever Carlos Marmol to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.
I guess you can never have enough competition in spring training, especially when it’s really not costing you anything. But realistically, Marmol has about as good of a chance of making the Red Sox out of spring as you do. Yes, you reading this right now. You and Carlos Marmol are equals.
The 33-year-old last appeared at the major league level in 2014 for the Miami Marlins, where he had an 8.10 ERA and 6.43 FIP in 13.1 innings. From 2009 through 2012, Marmol was closing out games for the Cubs, and I use that term loosely. He racked up 107 saves in those four years, but he did it with a 1.377 WHIP and 3.34 FIP. If you weren’t familiar with Marmol’s work, you’d probably wonder how he kept his job in the ninth inning.
Well, despite allowing base runners at a much higher rate than your average closer, he also struck out batters at a much higher rate than your average closer. Over those four seasons, Marmol struck out a ridiculous 402 batters in 281 innings. His sparkling 12.9 strikeouts per nine innings was often offset by his 6.7 walks per nine innings.
With Craig Kimbrel, Carson Smith, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa all locks for Boston’s 2016 bullpen, Marmol will have to beat out the crop of pitchers who have options remaining on their contracts, like Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Heath Hembree, Brandon Workman and Noe Ramirez. Left-handed pitcher Tommy Layne doesn’t have any options remaining, and he’ll also be in consideration for the bullpen, all while the Red Sox keep the door open to possibly add another left-handed reliever.
In addition to the names listed above, Marmol is one of seven pitchers who are non-roster invitees to spring training this year. Among them is right-hander Anthony Varvaro, who appeared in nine games for the Red Sox last year.
After laying out all of these factors that are in the way of Marmol making the team, we actually have the video of Marmol talking to Dave Dombrowski on the phone after they agreed to a minor league deal.