Apparently They're Listening on Sean Marshall Now
UPDATE: Deal is done according to a Bruce Levine tweet, don't know the name of the minor leaguers yet and the players must pass physicals.
ESPN Chicago and Fox Sports both reported last night that the Cubs were close on a deal to send the "best left-handed reliever in baseball" to the Cincinnati Reds, possibly for left-handed starter Travis Wood and 2 more minor leaguers. It seems the "2 more" will be the key to deal. And of course, nothing is official yet with plenty of water already thrown on this rumor fire. But it may happen, and if so, let's see why it might make some sense.
Under the new CBA, relievers will almost certainly not being getting their old club free agent compensation and Marshall was set to be one after 2012. Better to get something now than nothing later with 2012 looking like a non-competitive season for the Cubs. Also, it's generally a good idea to trade a reliever for a starter, at least a starter that won't be a free agent until after 2016 and you probably expect to be average or slightly better. Wood will be just 25 next season after all. And as mentioned, there seems to be talk of at least 2 other Reds coming over and we'll have to see who those are.
And as good as Marshall has been the last few years, nearly equally versus lefties and righties, the Cubs do have Jeff Beliveu, Scott Maine and John Gaub to try to slide into that role or the dozen or so free agents they can throw a million bucks at. Of course, there's many that feel the Cubs should pull a C.J. Wilson with Sean Marshall and let him start and then watch him become a Cy Young candidate. That's probably some wishful thinking and I certainly wouldn't be opposed to trying him as a starter, but there were a lot of concerns with Marshall when he did start about losing his stuff after about 80 pitches and arm fatigue. That was a few years back, so maybe he can get over it, but you have to figure the Cubs and other teams are having that exact same discussion we have on these boards, but with about 800% more information available to them and don't feel it's the right move. It would be nice if the fans got an explanation, but at the same time, if the Cubs are trying to trade him under the pretense of the "best left-handed reliever in baseball", they probably don't want talk much about moving out of that role.
Back to Travis Wood, he's probably more of a back-end of the rotation guy that will be pretty cheap for the Cubs if the deal happens. He seems to feature a fastball that averages out at just below 90 mph with a real good change-up and cutter. If he had the Lillyhammer, he'd be a Ted Lilly clone, but his curveball is considered a work-in-progress. He had a very nice 2010 joining the Reds mid-season, capping it with 3.1 IP of scoreless ball replacing Edinson Volquez in the Game 1 of the Roy Halladay perfect game. He took a major step back in 2011.
Here's a scouting report from Kevin Goldstein before the 2010 season where he was rated a 3-star prospect and #5 in the Reds organization.
The Good: Wood's changeup is the best in the organization. It features nearly perfect arm action with considerable velocity separation, and heavy break late. He sets the pitch up well with an 88-92 mph fastball with cutting action, and he showed much better control in 2009 with a simplified delivery.
The Bad: Wood's curveball is a 40-45 pitch on the 20-80 scouting scale, and he'll need to find more consistency with it to succeed in the big leagues. He's undersized, and some wonder if he can handle a 32-start workload.
Perfect World Projection: He has the tools to be a good fourth starter.
We shall await the outcome.
In other Cubs news, they've resigned Reed Johnson to a one year deal to continue hitting lefties.