Cubs tell Carlos Marmol that he’s on the block

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Carlos Marmol appeared pretty excited last month upon learning he was being traded to the Angels for Dan Haren, only to see the deal fall through because of medical concerns about Haren’s hip. Still a Cub, Marmol has been told he is a trade candidate, but that the team won’t “give him away,” reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Marmol is owed $9.8 million next season in the final year of his deal. It’d be a high price to pay for an inconsistent closer, but the Cubs would likely be willing to absorb some of that cash if it meant getting a legitimate prospect in return.

If the Cubs do trade Marmol, then newly signed Japanese import Kyuji Fujikawa will likely take over closing duties. He could steal the job away from Marmol regardless. While Marmol did put together a nice second half in 2012, he hasn’t been lights out since 2010.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.