Carlos Marmol, once a catcher in the minors, has been rewarded for his expertise as a closer.
Marmol agreed Monday to a three-year, $20 million contract with the Chicago Cubs and avoided salary arbitration. The Cubs announced the deal after their first workout for pitchers and catchers. Marmol will have a salary of $3.2 million this season, $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013.
Marmol had 38 saves in 43 chances with a 2-3 record and 2.55 ERA last season. He had asked for $5.65 million in arbitration while the Cubs countered with an offer of $4.1 million. An arbitration hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday.
"I wanted to secure my life, my family, my career," he said.
The 28-year-old Marmol took over the closer's role in August 2009 and has converted 49 of 54 save chances since then.
"Great ones are hard to find. The numbers the kid put up," general manager Jim Hendry said.
Marmol sometimes makes it exciting. He has experienced bouts of wildness during his career in which he has trouble finding the plate, hits batters and uncorks wild pitches with a herky jerky motion. The hard-throwing right-hander has plunked 35 batters, thrown 22 wild pitches and walked 252 in 385 1-3 innings during his career.
But he is often able to recover with the strikeout. He had a franchise record for relievers with 138 strikeouts last season, an average of 15.99 strikeouts per nine innings.
"I never worry about my control," Marmol said. "I worry about three outs before they score on me. You work hard. That's what you're looking for: work hard and get better every day. You never stop learning."
Marmol has made 316 major league appearances, all but 13 in relief. He was signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent in 1999 as a catcher/outfielder and was converted to a pitcher in 2002.
He started 13 games in 2006 before heading to the bullpen the following season where he excelled as a setup reliever with a 5-1 record and 1.43 ERA in 59 appearances. He made the All-Star team as a reliever in 2008.
"I grew up in this organization. I feel very proud," Marmol said during a news conference.
Five players remain in arbitration, with hearings scheduled through Friday. Players and owners have split the two cases already decided, with Pittsburgh pitcher Ross Ohlendorf winning and Los Angeles Angels pitcher Jered Weaver losing.