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.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.