Cubs face big decisions with Marmol, Garza

Carlos Marmol must decide whether to take less money to ensure financial stability. Rob Grabowski/US Presswire

The Chicago Cubs have some big decisions to make on arguably their two most important pitchers of the future.

In the case of Carlos Marmol, you have a closer who has been as close to being an everyday player as a pitcher could be. Marmol has averaged almost 80 appearances over the past three seasons. In 2010, he saved 38 games, which was half of the Cubs' victory total.

The Cubs are offering Marmol $4.1 million as part of the arbitration process. Marmol and his agents are seeking $5.6 million.

The bigger picture is whether the sides can come to an agreement on a three-year deal. A two-year contract would not be beneficial for the Cubs. Marmol has one more year of arbitration left in 2012. After that season, he'll be eligible for free agency. The Cubs would give Marmol a three-year deal if they could save some money over the average life of the three years.

A good starting point for an agreement might be $18-$20 million. In 2011, Marmol most likely will get around $4.8 million when the sides decide to agree. Projecting next season, Marmol may get $7-$8 million, if he repeats his 2010 performance.

After the second year, Marmol may be making close to $12-$13 million in his first year as a free agent.

Why would Marmol take less? First and foremost $18-$20 million guarantees economic stability. If the 28-year-old pitcher comes up with an injury, he's still set for life.

On the Cubs' side, they would save $5-$7 million in a deal like this, and also keep their closer through his first year of free agency, meaning the team would have three years of control over Marmol's contract.

In this case, the pitcher would be wise to take less over three years in order to pitch worry free. The gamble is projecting Marmol, who only has one year as a closer under his belt. He's led the league in walks by a reliever in the last two seasons. He also hit a league-high eight batters in 2010.

The process of signing Garza is a bit different. The newest Cubs starting pitcher has two more years of arbitration left after 2011. As a comparison to pitchers in his class, Garza will make $5.9 million in 2011. His projected salary number in 2012 may be $10 million if he continues to put up 15 wins and throws his usual 200 innings. It may be up to $13-$15 million in 2013 if he stays consistent.

The Cubs may want to reconfigure all three seasons -- 2011-13 -- and offer something in the area of $23-$25 million.

Why would Garza's camp do it? Same scenario as Marmol. He gets a big chunk of cash and the Cubs save $6-$8 million over the life of the deal.

Garza, like Marmol, would be able to protect himself and his family by getting guaranteed cash regardless of injury and decreasing production.