|The Cubs finalized their trade of righthander Jason Marquis—along with $875,000—to the Rockies, netting them righthanded reliever Luis Vizcaino and $5 million in salary relief. Chicago already had traded second baseman Mark DeRosa to the Indians on New Year's Eve, while simultaneously signing Aaron Miles—a series of transactions that freed up about $3 million for 2009.
The resulting $8 million in savings from the Cubs' two trades already has been applied to free agent outfielder Milton Bradley's new three-year, $30 million deal, so the recent activity does not necessarily signify a reinvigorated interest in trading for Jake Peavy. But then again, the Marquis trade does open a rotation spot . . .
|Notable more for his durability than his dominance, Marquis has averaged 32 starts per year in the five seasons since 2004. And considering just the past three, he's gone 37-34, 5.08 with 296 strikeouts, 221 walks and 72 home runs allowed in 553 innings—but he's done so for teams that have gone 265-219 (.548). Included in that set are the World Series-winning Cardinals of '06 and the '08 Cubs, a team that featured the best record in the National League. At his best, the 30-year-old Marquis keeps the ball on the ground with a 90 mph sinker, a cutter, a low-80s slider and a changeup. Too many baserunners have led to too many big innings, though, as his 1.45 WHIP over the course of the past three seasons can attest. He went 11-9, 4.53 with a 91-70 K-BB mark in 167 innings last season, and he'll slot in behind Jeff Francis, Aaron Cook and Ubaldo Jimenez in the Rockies' rotation. Marquis is eligible for free agency following the 2009 season.
Coming off one of his lesser seasons, the 34-year-old Vizcaino nonetheless figures to fill a crucial role in the Cubs' bullpen, especially after the free agent departure of closer Kerry Wood. He went 1-2, 5.28 in 43 games for the Rockies last season, compiling 49 strikeouts, 19 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 46 innings. He missed time early in the year with a sore right shoulder. As soon as Vizcaino throws his first pitch for the Cubs, he will have played for six teams in six years—but at least the register of players he's been traded for is an impressive one: Carlos Lee (Brewers-White Sox, 2004), Javier Vazquez (White Sox-Diamondbacks, 2005) and Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks-Yankees, 2007). Vizcaino relies on a slider to combat righthanded batters and a high-80s splitter for lefties, throwing his low-90s fastball only about half the time.