The Cubs Won't Trade Sean Marshall. Seriously?

At an alarming rate, trade rumors are flowing in left and right with the deadline right around the corner. As ever, the month of July has already provided us with ongoing storylines and discussions, both of which then create opportunities for analysis. One storyline that's caught my more than others has been the strong suit of reliever talk, which seem to take prominence at this time every year. The relief pitcher rumors seem to be centered mostly around Padres righty Mike Adams, who, in eyes of many, is one of baseball's best and most fearsome relievers. Even though I've been a little swayed away from the Adams love, I still tend to agree. However, he isn't the best reliever in baseball and might not even be the most devastating relief pitcher on the market.

Adams and the Padres made headlines yesterday after Tom Krasovic, formerly of FanHouse, reported the Phillies interest in the right-hander noting that the Fightin's would be willing to part with top prospect Jonathan Singleton in an Adams deal. However, Krasovic says Singleton alone might not be enough to pry Adams away from the confines of Petco. If so, that puts some kind of burden on the Cubs should they choose to not trade Sean Marshall, who, statistically, ranks as one of the best relief pitchers in baseball this year. Even better than Adams in many respects.

The problem here is that according to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Cubs have no interest in dealing the left-hander. Seems odd, don't you think? Before I go about comparing Marshall to Adams, it's worth noting how nasty Marshall has been of late. In 2010, he posted a 2.28 FIP followed by a 1.95 mark this year. In addition, he's struck out more than ten batters per nine innings this year and last which translates to a 29.3 & 25.3 K% respectively, both at least ten points higher than the league average. He hasn't been lucky, which his .314 BABIP this year and .294 last year would suggest and most of all, he's earned the Cubs almost four wins in the same span of time. He's an excellent pitcher but then again, an ERA in the mid-high 2.00's is most noticeable to those who not only watch him every day, but the ones who write the checks and make the transactions as well.

Adams on the other hand has posted 2.34 and 2.24 FIP's respectively over the past two seasons with a lower K rate and higher HR rate than Marshall over the same time frame, although his 1.88 BB/9 this season is superior to Marshall's 2.08. Adams is sporting a .193 BABIP which most likely has to do with some good luck on balls in play and has earned the Friars 2.3 wins over the past two years. Still pretty solid, no?

Meanwhile, Marshall and the aforementioned Adams both have a year-and-a-half of control left before they enter the the gauntlet, also known as free agency. Unlike Sean Marshall, however, Adams heads to arbitration after this season which could up his 2012 salary to something in the $5MM range at least. Marshall is under control and will only earn $3.1MM next year. So in other words, Sean Marshall would serve as a better acquisition than Adams and the fact that Jim Hendry and co aren't considering at least listening to what the market has to offer is absurd. Being oblivious is one thing, but unwilling is another.

Sure, the Cubs have every right to believe in 2012 contention. And oh my, what would that pen look like without Marshall as a staple, or much less a bridge to Marmol? There's even a strong chance they will be a fine baseball team, especially when you counter in the continued progression of guys like Starlin Castro and the additional flexibility the Cubs brass will have when Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena head off in to the sunsets free agent pool. But if the word that's been going around almost guarantees the Padres a Jonathan Singleton type prospect for Mike Adams, the Cubs should be able to snag someone similar, if not better. And dam n, we're talking some kind of prospect.

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