When it comes to working out long-term extensions, most of the attention lately has been on Zack Greinke, and understandably so. At his best, the former Cy Young winner would provide the Brewers a formidable 1-2 punch over the next few years that could be unmatched in the Central Division. There’s been so much attention focused on Greinke, his lack of an agent and ongoing contract talks that it’s easy to forget that Shaun Marcum is also a free agent at season’s end.
“We’ll probably just let him play the year out … We’ve never engaged in (discussions about) a long-term deal with him. Doesn’t mean we wouldn’t later on.”
Marcum’s been saying the right things, but reading between the lines, it seems like he’s a little peeved:
“I’d like to stay, but there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. I don’t write the checks and do what they do up there. They obviously have a reason for not doing anything, and that’s their decision, not mine.”
It’s easy to see where both sides are coming from here. Marcum would probably like the long-term security of a deal. The Brewers would like to see Marcum get through a season without an injury scare or fading in September.
Marcum is a better pitcher than a lot of people want to give him credit for — especially after his performance in September and October last season. At the same time, though, he’s probably not the type of guy you want to commit to for three or four years. After this year, he’ll be a post-Tommy John guy with stressful mechanics on the wrong side of 30. Right now, his success depends on the effectiveness of his changeup, and as he loses velocity on his fastball, the changeup will become less effective — he’s said himself that he needs about a 10 mph difference between the two to do well.
Marcum doesn’t profile as a guy who will maintain velocity into and past his mid-30s. That’s a whole lot of risk for the Brewers to be taking on if they were to work out a deal. As disappointing as it would be to end up trading Brett Lawrie for only two years of Shaun Marcum, the Brewers would likely be better off getting what they can from him this season and letting him walk than tying themselves to another bad contract.