Carlos Zambrano Rumors

Olney On Fielder, Zambrano, Rays, Garza

There’s been lots of buzz about a possible deal between Prince Fielder and the Nationals this week, so’s Buster Olney asked some talent evaluators about the impact the free agent first baseman would have in Washington. One evaluator says adding Fielder would make the Nationals “an immediate threat in the NL East” and another guesses Fielder would boost the organization's revenues. Here are the rest of Olney’s rumors, starting in the NL East:

  • Some Marlins people aren’t convinced Carlos Zambrano’s stuff is good enough for him to be a frontline pitcher again, Olney writes. However, the Miami front office believes he’s worth the risk at $2.5MM.
  • Olney wonders if the Rays have interest in Daniel Murphy of the Mets. The Rays need a first baseman and the 26-year-old posted a .320/.362/.448 line in 423 plate appearances last year while playing first, second, third and left field.
  • Many talent evaluators consider Matt Garza a middle-of-the-rotation starter, which may contribute to the gap between the Cubs’ asking price and what rival teams have been offering in trade talks, Olney writes.

Cubs Notes: Garza, Wood, LaHair, Marshall

The Cubs agreed to send Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today. The Cubs take on nearly all of Zambrano’s salary, but in doing so they obtain Volstad, a valuable ground ball pitcher who has consistently made his starts since joining the Marlins’ rotation in 2008. He’s arbitration eligible this offseason and under team control through 2014. Before the trade, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined 720 WGN in Chicago for an extended interview. Here are some highlights:

  • Epstein said Matt Garza is a “top of the rotation type” starter. In general, players like Garza can become long-term assets by signing extensions or becoming trade chips, Epstein said. David Kaplan of hears that the Cubs continue asking "for [the] moon" in trade talks about Garza (Twitter link).
  • Rules limiting amateur spending in the new collective bargaining agreement won’t necessarily slow the Cubs down. "It just means we have to be better and more accurate with our drafting than the competition," Epstein said.
  • Epstein said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Kerry Wood. Wood signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter.
  • The Cubs expect to start Bryan LaHair at first base. The 29-year-old posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. He also posted an .885 OPS in 69 plate appearances with the big league club.
  • Epstein addressed Zambrano, saying "change needs to happen and change will happen." Not long after the interview, the Cubs agreed to send the right-hander to Miami.
  • Epstein explained that some disappointing players can recover from poor seasons to produce again. "It's a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real," Epstein said.
  • The Cubs value Sean Marshall, but felt it made sense to trade him for players who can contribute beyond 2012 (Travis Wood and two prospects), especially since Marshall isn't likely to be tied to draft pick compensation next offseason.
  • The Cubs are "very committed" to Carlos Marmol as their closer.

International Notes: Zambrano, Cabrera, Montero

Links are in Spanish…

  • Rumors have been circulating in Carlos Zambrano's home country of Venezuela about a possible trade to Miami, writes Marlins beat writer Luis Rangel at El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language counterpart to the Miami Herald (via Twitter). Rangel adds that he's heard from the team that "it's not true."
  • Asdrubal Cabrera will begin contract negotiations with the Indians next week, his agent Jose Mijares of Octagon told Jose Manuel Fernandez at El Universal in Venezuela. Tim Dierkes analyzed Cabrera as an multiyear extension candidate yesterday, though Mijares didn't mention any prospect of a long-term deal. "The team will send us a figure, and we'll respond," he said. "I don't think there will be any problems in signing soon. My experience with Cleveland tells me that there won't be any need to go to arbitration."
  • In the same piece, Mijares said that another of his arbitration-eligible clients, Miguel Montero, is close to agreeing with the Diamondbacks on a figure for 2012. "Montero has more points in his favor than Cabrera," Mijares said. "He was the leader many offensive categories among National League catchers." Montero's strong 2011 campaign led MLBTR's Mark Polishuk to identify him as an extension candidate back in September.  For 2012, Matt Swartz projects a $5.3MM salary.
  • Vicente Padilla told Edgard Rodriguez C. at La Prensa in Nicaragua that three teams have showed interest in him recently. Two days ago, another Nicaraguan paper reported that the Marlins were eyeing Padilla, but the pitcher said there is nothing firm between him and any team. More importantly to the 34-year-old righty's Major League prospects, his neck is pain-free and his fastball has reportedly been up around 95-96 mph this winter.
  • Miguel Tejada told Pappy Perez at El Nacional in the Dominican Republic that he wants to invest in the Dominican Winter League team the Aguilas Cibaeñas when his Major Leauge career is through. But he emphasized that he's not retired yet. "I've had a bad season, but that's not to say that I'm done, and my goal is to show that I can still be a player at the highest level. That's my goal these days," Tejada insisted.
  • Sources close to Amaury Sanit tell Fernando Ballesteros at Puro Béisbol in Mexico that the Dodgers are interested in signing the 32-year-old Cuban reliever. Sanit logged just seven innings out of the Yankees' pen last season before being released in June, but he has seen more action as the closer for the Culicán Tomateros in the Mexican League this winter, pitching to a 0.62 era in 36 appearances.

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.

Venezuelan Notes: Zambrano, Hanley, Vizquel

The Venezuelan Winter League's annual home run derby took place last night at City University (Ciudad Universidad) in Caracas, with longtime Mariners minor leaguer Luis Jimenez besting a host of MLB talent including Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Gonzalez, Andruw Jones, Bobby Abreu, Miguel Montero, and Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano, a surprise entry, made a decent showing, hitting his first offering out to left field and ultimately tying Gonzalez with two bambinazos, according to Oscar Alonso Delgado at Correo del Carroní. He also had the quote of the night. Links are in Spanish…

  • Talking to reporters at the derby, Zambrano outlined his re-commitment to the Cubs following a disastrous 2011 season. "I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
  • Alas, Ozzie Guillen didn't participate in the derby, but he did speak to the press, contesting recent reports that Hanley Ramirez has resisted moving to third base. "It never came from Hanley that he was upset. That was from the press," Guillen said, according to Manuel Lira at Líder. "He's calm. I've talked with him through Miguel Cabrera. He knew before the signing what the Marlins were going to do, and afteward, he talked with the front office for 20 minutes and didn't express any unhappiness. I want Hanley to be happy, and I'll talk with him when things quiet down."
  • Guillen also shared the mic briefly with Omar Vizquel, who complained to the Venezuelan press earlier this offseason that that the White Sox treated him like he was "in intensive care" last season. Guillen joked, "They booted me [from Chicago] because of Vizquel," but apparently feelings aren't too raw, because in a separate piece in Líder by Joiner Martinez, the new Marlins manager added, "Omar Vizquel is a possibility for our team… We don't know which players we're going to sign, but Vizquel could play two or three more years in the big leagues." Guillen clarified, however, that Zambrano isn't in his plans at the moment.

Cubs Rumors: Zambrano, Pena, Lopez

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune has several Cubs issues packed into his latest article. Here are the highlights:

  • After meeting with new president Theo Epstein, Carlos Zambrano has told friends he thinks he will remain a Cub in 2012. Sullivan writes that Zambrano will still have to convince both new and pre-existing front office members that he's serious about making amends with his teammates.
  • Epstein praised Carlos Pena and said that the club's arbitration offer by no means shuts the door on Pena's time with the team. Epstein expects Pena to decline arbitration but will continue discussions to bring him back. "He'd be an asset to the Cubs or any team," said Epstein of Pena.
  • The Cubs have interest in bringing back Rodrigo Lopez as rotation depth.
  • Starlin Castro won't be moved from shortstop in the near future for defensive reasons. Epstein feels defense is one area players can "absolutely, 100 percent get better with hard work."
  • New manager Dale Sveum may bring in Dave McKay, a longtime coaching associate of Tony La Russa, as a coach.
  • The Cubs made former big league pitcher John Koronka a regional scout in charge of Florida. Koronka , 31, last pitched for the Marlins in 2009.

GM Meetings Notes: Kelly Johnson, Carlos Zambrano

Here are some notes from the GM Meetings as team owners and presidents check in to Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel in anticipation of the quarterly Owners Meetings:

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is strongly considering re-signing free agent second baseman Kelly Johnson“There’s a lot of scenarios and ways that we could go and bringing Kelly back is certainly one of them,” Anthopoulos said. He declined to comment on possible changes to the Elias rankings system, but it’s something the Blue Jays will monitor closely given the many ranked free agents they have this offseason. Johnson is a Type A free agent, but he may become a Type B under the upcoming CBA.
  • The Blue Jays would like to add starting pitching, but they don’t intend to force an acquisition, since they consider it more of a want than a need. “If we can get a front-to-mid-rotation starter, we’d love to do that,” Anthopoulos told MLBTR. “At the same time I think every team would tell you the same thing. Everyone’s going to look for that.”
  • Carlos Zambrano met with Cubs president Theo Epstein this week to discuss his future with the team. GM Jed Hoyer says the Cubs are still in the process of determining how the right-hander fits in to the 2012 plan. “He’s in very good shape,” Hoyer said. “He had a very good lunch with Theo the other day. He’s had some incidents here — we can’t ignore the past, but at the same time we talked about a lot of things we can do. It’s too early to make a decision, but so far it’s been positive.”

Epstein On Zambrano, Managerial Search, Hale

Earlier today, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein had lunch with embattled pitcher Carlos Zambrano to discuss his future.  Here are Epstein's comments on the meeting and more..

  • Epstein said that Zambrano has a chance to "earn his way back' to being a Cub, tweets Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. 
  • Epstein also hopes to make progress on naming a manager this week and will have "follow-ups" with candidates, Hoynes tweets.
  • The Cubs conducted a phone interview with DeMarlo Hale for the managerial job, tweets Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald.  Epstein said that they know the Red Sox bench coach well enough that a face-to-face meeting wasn't necessary.
  • Epstein hopes that the Red Sox and Cubs can make headway on their compensation talks now that they're in the same building, according to Carrie Muskat of (via Twitter).
  • In other Cubs news, scouting director Jason McLeod is headed to the Dominican Republic this week to see several players, including outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Muskat tweets.

Epstein, Zambrano Touch Base

Carlos Zambrano is in no hurry to part ways with the Cubs, and by the pitcher's account the feeling is mutual. Zambrano told Carlos Alberto Zambrano at the Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes (link in Spanish) that he received a "friendly" call from new team president Theo Epstein on Tuesday, the first contact between the two. According to Zambrano, the conversation started with introductions and ended with Epstein promising to call him at a later date to set up a personal meeting stateside.

"We talked for a while. Now I'm waiting for him to tell me when we'll meet," Zambrano said. "It might be after the winter meetings that the GMs have, which is in Milwaukee this year."

Zambrano had a rough start to his winter league sojourn last week, lasting only 2 2/3 innings for the reigning league champion Anzoátegui Caribes. And while the 30-year-old sounded eager to build a positive relationship with the new Cubs brass, he is not planning to step away from his duties in Venezuela to do so. 

"When I go to talk to the GM it will be a short trip. For example, supposing that I pitch on a Saturday, I'd leave that same night. We'd talk Sunday or Monday, and by Tuesday, I'd be on my way back to Venezuela. I'm not going for a week or even five days. It'll be quick-to meet each other. Talk in person. That's very important. I'd like to build a relationship from scratch with the new GM. Erase everything and start over."

The Marlins and Royals have been connected to Zambrano so far this offseason, but Royals GM Dayton Moore insisted on Monday that the team's interest was mostly theoretical.

Royals Interested In Carlos Zambrano

5:02pm: Moore clarified his remarks to's Dick Kaegel and said he shouldn't have publicly discussed a player under contract with another team (link on Carrie Muskat's blog). 

“It’s our job as a baseball operations department to listen and explore every potential opportunity that would improve our team,” Moore said. “We spend countless hours doing so and we invite everybody’s opinion as to how it pertains to how we could improve our team. And if one of our people brought up Carlos Zambrano, I would listen and ask questions about why they believe that. That’s all that was and I responded in that spirit.”

12:05pm: The Royals have interest in Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, Mark Carman at 610 Sports Radio learned from talking with GM Dayton Moore yesterday ('s David Kaplan has Moore's quotes).  Moore's comments on Zambrano when asked:

"We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it because that's what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor.  Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easy going, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts but I believe in our coaching staff and we'll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We'll see how that particular situation unfolds."

Zambrano is owed $18MM in 2012, and has a $19.25MM option that vests for 2013 if he finishes in the top four of the 2012 Cy Young vote.  The option seems highly unlikely to vest, but if Zambrano is somehow that good in 2012, perhaps his team wouldn't mind another year.  Moore's comments on Z's contract:

"He has a no-trade clause for 29 other teams so he is going to have to be comfortable wherever he goes and there is a lot of money attached to his deal. There is a vesting option that is a part of that worth $18 or 19 million going forward. We certainly wouldn't want to put ourselves in a position where we have to honor a contract of that nature."

The Cubs expect to address the Zambrano situation this week, writes ESPN's Buster Olney.  As I wrote in August, the 30-year-old righty has major negative trade value.  As a pitcher he's worth a few million dollars, so maybe the Cubs could trade Zambrano for a low-level prospect while assuming $15MM.  That assumes Zambrano would approve a trade without requiring compensation.  Jed Hoyer told Kaplan he has the ability to eat any contract he feels is necessary to improve the club.   It'd probably be better for the Cubs to instead take on a similar bad contract and hope for some value out of that player.