Marlins Close To Acquiring Carlos Zambrano

6:25pm: The Cubs will absorb all of Zambrano's $18MM salary less the MLB minimum, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.

6:15pm: Chris Volstad is joining the Cubs in the deal, according to Jon Heyman of (Twitter link). The 6'8" right-hander posted a 4.89 ERA with 6.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 52.3% ground ball rate in 165 2/3 innings for the Marlins in 2011. His career numbers (4.59 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 50.4% ground ball rate) show he's a steady if unspectacular back-of-the-rotation option. However, he's homer prone and struggles against left-handers, as MLBTR's Mike Axisa pointed out earlier in the offseason.

The 25-year-old former first rounder projects to earn $2.6MM through arbitration in 2012 and will remain under team control through 2014, which makes him a relatively affordable medium-term option. 

4:42pm: The 2012 Marlins are about to get a little more interesting. In case Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell don’t add enough intrigue to the upcoming season, the team is close to acquiring Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The move would round out Miami’s rotation and provide the Cubs with the chance to part ways with a volatile but talented player who was no longer welcome in Chicago.

Zambrano would need to waive his no-trade clause for the teams to complete the deal, but he would presumably be open to playing for friend and fellow Venezuelan Ozzie Guillen. Zambrano and Guillen reportedly discussed the possibility after the 2011 season.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had a productive meeting with Zambrano after the season, but the right-hander hasn't seemed wanted in Chicago for a while. The Cubs placed Zambrano on the disqualified list last summer following an August outburst and declined to play him in September, after his 30-day suspension ended.

The deal would give the Marlins a projected rotation of Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Zambrano. The deal would presumably take the Marlins out of the running for another Cubs starter: right-hander Matt Garza.

It's not yet clear how the Cubs and Marlins would split Zambrano's salary. He will earn $18MM in 2012 and his contract includes an option for 2013 that could vest depending on his health and performance in 2012. He needs to finish in the top four in next year's Cy Young vote and finish the season healthy for the option to vest. The Cubs will take on much of Zambrano's salary and are "not expecting to receive much back in the way of prospects," David Kaplan of writes.

Zambrano, 30, posted a 4.82 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 42.4% ground ball rate in 145 2/3 innings for the Cubs in 2011. He has spent his entire 11-year career with the Cubs and earned nearly $100MM in the process. Zambrano, a three-time Silver Slugger, owns a .241/.251/.395 career line as a hitter and has hit 23 home runs. The Cubs signed him out of Venezuela in 1997 under former GM Ed Lynch.

The Marlins have a full 40-man roster and would have to clear space for Zambrano unless they're sending a player from their 40-man to Chicago.

This post was originally published on January 4th.