Potential Players of Interest: Joba Chamberlain & Carlos Marmol | The Process Report

Potential Players of Interest: Joba Chamberlain & Carlos Marmol

Unlike years past, the Rays go into this offseason with some semblance of continuity in the bullpen. Fernando Rodney (through Joel Peralta) has expressed desire to return, and for less money, but how much less is to be determined as the 36-year-old is in line to cash in on his success in Tampa Bay. Aside from Rodney, there will be a few lower-leverage slots to fill, but Peralta along with Jake McGee, Alex Torres, and potentially Juan Carlos Oviedo, are prepared to do the heavy lifting.

Though the need to supplement the core is not pressing this winter – especially considering intriguing internal options like Kirby Yates and C.J. Riefenhauser – the Rays’ will undoubtedly survey the market looking for potential bullpen bargains including reclamation projects that have served them so well in the past. Two names, familiar because of past success, may show up on the club’s radar as they hit free agency at uncertain points in their career.

Once the number three prospect in the game according to Baseball America, Joba Chamberlain enters the market as a middle reliever coming off the worst season of his career by any set of metrics you chose. Blame who you want for failing to live up to expectations be it: the Joba Rules, the talent evaluators, the player, or the hype, things did not work out as expected to this point in his career. He has lost nearly two seasons (2011 and 2012) with arm and ankle injuries and was highly ineffective last season.

The good news is Chamberlain’s flaws appear to be correctable. The crux of his issues from 2013 stem from command and control; two elements that are generally regarded as the final things to return after such a lengthy rehabilitation. He was previously above average in both categories, meaning it stands to reason that portion of his game may return organically with increased repetition.

Chamberlain may also benefit from a slight mechanical adjustment. In watching video it looked as if his slider – previously rated as a two-plus pitch – caught too much of the plate too many times last year. The right-hander stands on the third base side of the rubber. This means the pitch has to travel the length of the dish and then some to reach its intended target which is typically glove-side and down. Though it is not a magical cure all, perhaps shifting a few inches toward the first base side move the process along. Point blank, Chamberlain has to do a better job of locating as he once did. But artificially shifting the sliders movement may help him in the interim while softening the blow when he does miss his mark.

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Results aside, Chamberlain has attributes that work in his favor. He is still on the right side of 30 with stuff that cannot be manufactured. He is still clocked in the mid-90s with his fastball and his slider is a very good pitch when located. He can spin a curveball if needed and at one time was developing off-speed pitch. And once more, he will be an another year removed from arm surgery which could provide some natural correction. He is likely looking at a short-term deal with a modest guarantee with the hopes of refurbishing some of that lost luster. In many ways, this makes him a prime candidate for the Rays

Similar, but different to Chamberlain, Carlos Marmol has a lot of unteachables and a lot to be left be desired. He is equipped with good size and an arm that scouts drool over. His fastball lives around 95 mph with an apex in the triple digits. His primary pitch is a hard slider in the mid-to-upper 80s that misses bats in large quantity. Unfortunately, it misses the strike zone nearly as much which is a problem.

Marmol has posted extreme strikeout rates in recent seasons with walk rates that are just as intense. The Cubs traded their former closer to the deep-pocketed Dodgers in July. He made a handful of minor league appearances, but spent most of the summer in Los Angeles.

Despite the change in scenery, the same issues that plagued him in Chicago followed him to Southern California. With the Dodgers, his posted a gaudy strikeout rate, but walked nearly 20 percent of batters faced; a number that would have been his highest in a single season. On the plus side, he yielded fewer hits and allowed fewer of those hits to leave the yard. He has shown reverse splits which is a byproduct of poorly commanded fastballs against same-sided batters.

Having turned 31 earlier this month, Marmol is no long a spring chicken. He has an awkward delivery where he drops down almost hunchback with the ball extended behind his back before coming over the top and whipping the ball to the plate in a way that is visually unappealing. With the ugly motion comes a spine tilt that does nothing to help his poor control. Meanwhile, even with the violent motion and mileage, he has not missed time due to an arm issue since 2006 when he had some fatigue in late September.

Due to his inability to throw strikes, Marmol is looking at a deal that will likely be short on years and dollars. But because of his raw ability, Marmol is intriguing to almost every organization. His stuff is the type of stuff that pitching coaches will try anything to cultivate. In fact, it is the same kind of stuff – if not better – that attracted the Rays to Fernando Rodney two years ago.

Both pitchers are at a crossroads in their career with a different floor and ceiling. Marmol has extreme upside – especially in a one-year setting – but also more likely to be a bust. Chamberlain, although younger, might have lesser upside on a short-term deal, but is a safer bet to be productive with blemishes that are apparently easier to correct. Either way, one or both may catch the attention of Rays’ decision makers.



One Comment

  1. Miles Larsen wrote:

    Both interesting possibilities. They for sure fit that profile for the team. Players that were at some point good, and often showed signs of being exceptional – but have dramatically fallen off due to injury, weird mechanics, mental stuff, who knows. The list of guys like this that the rays have picked up is long – only a little longer than the list of guys who’ve gone back to their previous form (or at least gotten close to it). Loney is a great recent example from this year.

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