The Tigers have better in-house candidates for closer than Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Why must we talk about Carlos Marmol?
The Tigers shouldn't spend much time worrying about finding a replacement for rookie closer candidate Bruce Rondon — and probably won't.
It seemed clear the Tigers wanted to see their fire-tossing minor league whiz-kid succeed in the closer's role, but their 2013 hopes would not grind to a halt without his success.
Rondon's wildness early during spring training cost him some of that fire.
And with scrutiny as tight as everyone knew it would be, any hiccup would be justification to spin the rumor wheel and see what came up.
Turns out the wheel stopped on Marmol, who could be described as a veteran, but not necessarily a better version of Rondon, 22.
True, Marmol has 115 more saves more than Rondon. But he's also blown 25 attempts, including 10 in 2011.
On top of that, Marmol has walked six batters for every nine innings during his career. That figure soared to 7.3 in 2012.
Oh, and he's due $9.8 million in 2013.
Even ceding that the Cubs may cover some of that salary if they want any useful players in return, it's hard to see the Marmol rumors as anything but ridiculous.
Free agents not appealing
Rondon — or a closer-by-committee with a combination of Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit, Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke — almost certainly would get better results without the need to spend additional money or give up any players in the organization.
With that in mind, what might the market look like beyond Marmol?
Begin with the unsigned free agents.
Former Tigers closer Jose Valverde is available. Plenty of cause for concern there, of course.
In 2012, Valverde no longer forced batters to drive the ball into the ground and saw the speed on his fastball slip. Even before the playoffs began, there were issues.
Brian Wilson is out there, too. But even before elbow surgery in 2012, he began to slip in 2011 — his strikeouts were down, his rate of walks up and he lost more velocity off his fastball.
Francisco Rodriguez is available, but it's been two seasons since he was a regular closer (Angels).
His 4.38 ERA in the setup role for the Brewers last season hardly seems like a good sign.
No reason to get excited
The trade market doesn't offer much, either.
Former A's closer Andrew Bailey, now with the Red Sox, may be the best option. Of course he's only available because Boston acquired a better option (Joel Hanrahan) following Bailey's struggles and thumb surgery in 2012.
Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt may be the only unblemished option, and his availability is unknown. Still, he has solid numbers — 31 saves, 2.91 ERA and few walks.
In the end, the Tigers are best served by holding on to all their trade chips — for now — and giving Rondon and the committee a try.
The other options are hardly heartening.
Kurt Mensching is the editor of Bless You Boys, a Tigers blog (blessyouboys.com). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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