Carlos Marmol is back as the Cubs’ closer

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Carlos Marmol notched his first save since May 2 yesterday against the Red Sox, but in typical Marmol-fashion, it wasn’t easy.

Marmol gave up a one-out single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia before Mike Aviles reached on a fielding error by third baseman Luis Valbuena. He then struck out Daniel Nava looking before walking Scott Podsednik to load the bases. However, he was able to get Dustin Pedroia to ground out to end it.

While the appearance hardly inspires confidence moving forward, Cubs manager Dale Sveum revealed after the game that the erratic right-hander will continue to serve as the closer. According to Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune, Sveum said he made the move “to solidify the bullpen somewhat.” No word on if he said that with a straight face. Then again, the Cubs don’t have many great options in their bullpen right now.

Marmol has an ugly 5.79 ERA and 21/22 K/BB ratio in 18 2/3 innings this season, including a 4.91 ERA and 9/6 K/BB ratio over 7 1/3 innings since returning from a hamstring strain at the end of May. Moving him back to the closer role is a way to showcase him for a potential trade, but given that he’s making $7 million this season and $9.8 million next year, that’s going to be a pretty tough sell.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.