Carlos Zambrano Rumors
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched...or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball...
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
John Mozeliak followed an unusual career path that led him to the Cardinals' GM job, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post writes. Mozeliak's career in baseball began when a connection led to him taking then-Rockies pitcher Bryn Smith on a fly-fishing trip. That led to an invitation to pitch batting practice for the Rockies, and from there, Mozeliak worked his way into baseball operations. He headed to St. Louis in 1995, after Rockies assistant GM Walt Jocketty took the Cardinals' GM job. Mozeliak then took over for Jocketty in 2007 and has since led the Cardinals to one World Series title. Now, of course, they're pursuing a second one. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon says that his team would have made an offer to Jose Dariel Abreu if he were a corner outfielder rather than a first baseman, Newsday's Marc Carig tweets. The Mets could certainly use a powerful corner outfielder, but they also have little stability at first base, where Ike Davis and Lucas Duda were disappointing last season. Wilpon also told Carig the Mets had a "glut" of first basemen, but none of them performed particularly well last year, perhaps with the exception of depth piece Josh Satin. One wonders why these players might have impeded the Mets from making a major signing.
- Wilpon says the Mets have received calls from teams trying to trade for a first baseman, tweets Carig.
- Former Cubs star Carlos Zambrano wants to keep pitching, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "He’s playing winter ball and wants to continue his career," says agent Barry Praver. Zambrano, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Marlins, pitched in the Phillies system in 2013, but his comeback attempt stalled due to shoulder issues.
Entering his final season as Nationals manager, Davey Johnson said that, in his mind, it was "World Series or Bust" for 2013. Today, the Nationals find themselves with a slim 1.6% chance of getting the second Wild Card spot in the National League, according to Baseball Prospectus. What went wrong in Washington? “We lost a few key players over the offseason and changed the dynamics of the bullpen. We had pretty much a set lineup and a had a different configuration on the bench. We still have a few little things to fix," Johnson said, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. "Starting pitching needs to be squared away. The bullpen is not nearly as efficient and effective as it was last year. And the bench has not been as productive. I still like the talent, but we lack some experience, as I talked about. I usually like to have my stacked hand before I make those predictions." Here's more out of the NL East..
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that it is a fait accompli that Brian McCann will be playing for a new team in 2014 due to the presence of Evan Gattis and Christian Bethancourt in Atlanta as well as the Braves' tight budget.
- Pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who most recently played with the Marlins and Phillies organizations, is healthy and wants to play again in 2014, according to his agent Scott Shapiro (via a Heyman tweet). Big Z will play winter ball in Venezuela to prepare for next season, he adds.
- Paul Hagen of MLB.com wonders if Jose Fernandez's campaign might be the best ever put together by a rookie pitcher. The Marlins phenom had a 2.23 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in the 27 starts leading up to tonight's game.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Phillies announced via press release that they have released Carlos Zambrano from their Triple-A club.
Zambrano, 32, was a mid-May signing for the Phillies and threw 35 1/3 innings for their minor league affiliates, posting a 2.04 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. However, he left the mound for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with shoulder pain on June 28 and hasn't pitched since. The Phillies said they decided that his chances of rehabbing and pitching competitively for the major league club this year were slim.
Big Z had an agreement in place with the Long Island Ducks earlier this year, but the Phillies swooped in with an offer for a minor league deal days after his contract with the Ducks was announced. Zambrano has a career 3.66 ERA in the major leagues in 1,959 innings.
If you're looking for some good reading over your Saturday morning coffee, here are a few nice leftovers from yesterday: Writing for Fangraphs, MLBTR contributor Marc Hulet broke down the position players who will participate in the MLB Futures Game. MLB.com's Corey Brock had the story of former third-overall pick Donavan Tate's attempt to revive his injury- and addiction-plagued career. Writing for the Biz of Baseball, Maury Brown discussed the decline in MLB and MiLB PED suspensions thus far in 2013. And as the Washington Post's Dave Sheinin reports, youth baseball is experiencing what could be an inner-city renaissance in Washington, D.C. On to some National League notes:
- Dodgers fans are probably still reeling from last night's beating, the team's worst home loss (Twitter link) since the franchise played in Brooklyn. But with the club's offense pointing upwards of late and with just six games to make up in a scuffling NL West, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com writes that L.A. still could be looking to buy pitching. He says that the Dodgers cannot depend on a mix of Chris Capuano, Stephen Fife, Ted Lilly, and Matt Magill at the back of the rotation, and would be even more foolish to place their faith in Brandon League, Peter Moylan, and Matt Guerrier with late-inning pen roles.
- While the Phillies continue to hang around just under .500, speculation has focused on whether the club might deal top arms Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon. Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com wonders whether the club might be more likely to look to deal infielders Chase Utley or Michael Young, in spite of the no-trade protection that both enjoy. With Utley and Young set to become free agents after the season, a clear fall away from contention would make it difficult to pass up a youth infusion. On the other hand, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that his "intention would be to keep [Utley] in our uniform for the rest of his career, if possible." Should the Phils look to deal, Knobler suggests that the Yankees could be in on both players, with the Royals potentially interested in Utley.
- One player that Philadelphia was hoping might provide a boost was mid-season signee Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano's inconsistent performance in minor league action had already dampened any real enthusiasm for his ascension to the bigs, but he took the Triple-A mound last night hoping to convince Amaro that a call-up was warranted in advance of his July 1 opt-out date. Instead, Zambrano left the game with what Amaro called "serious pain" in his shoulder. As Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports via Twitter, the injury means that Zambrano's already-uncertain big league return will now definitely not occur for the foreseeable future.
- Embattled Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol, who currently sits in DFA limbo, may be able to draw some kind of trade return after all. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted yesterday that three unnamed teams have shown some interest in Marmol.
Peter Gammons reported earlier today that there was buzz amongst the league's general managers that Ricky Nolasco would end up with the Giants before the trade deadline. This sentiment is shared even by another general manager who is himself interested in Nolasco; this mystery GM tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he expects Brian Sabean to outbid the field in the race for the Marlins righty.
Here are some more items from around the majors...
- The Angels might make pending free agents Jason Vargas or Scott Downs available at the trade deadline if they decide to sell, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines, though there won't be any major moves. "I'm told nothing will cause them to blow up the roster and start all over again," Gonzalez writes, since the front office still believes the club can be contenders in 2014 and beyond and the Josh Hamilton/Albert Pujols contracts make it difficult to truly rebuild.
- The Angels have nothing to show for their efforts in acquiring big-name pitchers (Scott Kazmir, Dan Haren and Zack Greinke) at the trade deadline in three of the last four seasons, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes. Making matters worse for the Halos is that they dealt several top prospects in those trades, giving away such notable talents as Jean Segura, Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Alex Torres.
- The Twins have exceeded expectations this year but "it's hard to see a scenario in which they'll be buyers" at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes as part of a reader mailbag. A hot streak over the next month could change plans, though with the Tigers unlikely to be caught atop the AL Central, Bollinger suspects the Twins will stick with their rebuilding plan.
- Bud Norris noted that he hasn't discussed a long-term deal with the Astros and he wouldn't be surprised if he is traded, the right-hander tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. "If the trade deadline is here and I'm still in an Astros uniform, I'll be happy with that," Norris said. "I understand something could happen, but at the end of the day, my focus right now is still in Houston, and that's where it's going to stay." The Pirates, Orioles and Giants have all reportedly considered acquiring Norris and more suitors are likely to follow.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was non-committal about whether or not the Phils would call up Carlos Zambrano before his July 1 opt-out date. Amaro told reporters (including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer) that Zambrano has "been inconsistent" in the minors and that he doesn't see the righty as a relief pitcher.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum says his team has no intention of releasing struggling reliever Carlos Marmol and eating the rest of his $9.8MM salary, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs," says Sveum. "But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." Marmol allowed four runs in the ninth as the Cubs lost to the Mets 4-3 on Sunday. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Cubs' bullpen has struggled this season, but in the aftermath of this summer's trading season, the team's rotation could end up being just as weak, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Last season, the Cubs performed poorly down the stretch after the departures of two productive starters in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm. This year, Wittenmyer says, Matt Garza and Scott Feldman could be those pitchers' 2013 equivalents.
- Phillies starter Jonathan Pettibone struggled Saturday, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says that Carlos Zambrano won't be replacing Pettibone right away, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. "Not based on what I saw his last outing, not in my mind," says Amaro. "I’d like to see him pitch again [in the minors]. We’ll keep a close eye on his starts and how effective he is. But he’s not ready yet in my mind." Zambrano has an out clause July 1. He allowed two runs in five innings in his first outing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, striking out five and walking four. His fastball did not exceed 88 MPH.
- Speaking of Amaro, Bob Brookover of the Inquirer argues that "the bad has outweighed the good" in Amaro's stint as GM, and that it's unclear whether Amaro is the right person for the job. Amaro's signing of Joe Blanton and trade for Hunter Pence rank among his worst moves, Brookover says.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says James McDonald's future with the team could be in jeopardy, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price writes in a pair of tweets. "As the clock ticks we’ll have to make a determination as to where James best fits in this group, on this club, or does he fit," says Huntington. "That’s a question to be answered ultimately by James McDonald." McDonald, once viewed as a potential franchise building block after promising seasons in 2010 and 2011 and a great first half in 2012, has fallen out of favor after collapsing down the stretch last year and posting a 5.76 ERA with 20 walks in six 2013 starts. He has also struggled in his rehab starts since landing on the disabled list with shoulder discomfort.
- If the Blue Jays had already acquired Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins, they wouldn't have signed Maicer Izturis, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues. Izturis signed a three-year, $10MM deal in November, and the Jays acquired Reyes and Bonifacio days later. Izturis has hit .222/.258/.308 this season.
Earlier this weekend, ESPN.com's Jim Bowden suggested that the Rays would promote outfielder and top prospect Wil Myers sometime in the next 10 days. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin, though, says Myers wouldn't have a place to play. Kelly Johnson, Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist have all performed well at the corner outfield spots for the Rays this year. The Rays could drop Luke Scott and create a rotation of players for the DH spot in order to clear space for Myers, but if they don't, Myers is a man without a position. Topkin also says that Rays manager Joe Maddon has not recently had discussions about Myers with executive vice president Andrew Friedman. The 22-year-old Myers was the key player acquired from the Royals in the James Shields trade last offseason. Myers is hitting .286/.359/.515 for Triple-A Durham. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- One reason for the Red Sox's success this year, as compared to last, is improvements in their advance scouting, says Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Manager John Farrell was hired earlier in the offseason than his predecessor, Bobby Valentine, had been, and so Farrell had a stronger pool of coaches from which to hire. Farrell and GM Ben Cherington both say interest in advance preparation was an important criterion as they hired their coaching staff. Brian Butterfield, the Sox's third base coach, prepares the team's infield shifts and is a key figure in the team's advance-scouting efforts.
- Veteran pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who signed a minor-league deal with the Phillies in mid-May, does not enjoy relieving, Mike Still of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. "I signed here to be a starter," says Zambrano. "Last year was miserable when I went to the bullpen, I didn't enjoy it." Still notes, however, that Zambrano is willing to pitch in any role with the Phillies. Youngsters Tyler Cloyd and Jonathan Pettibone have helped keep the Phillies' rotation steady in the absence of Roy Halladay, and the Phils also have a rehabbing John Lannan waiting in the wings. Their plans for Zambrano are unclear. Zambrano has a July 1 opt-out date.
11:28am: Zambrano's contract contains a July 1 opt-out date, per Danny Knobler of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
10:14am: The Phillies have officially announced the signing of Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal. He will report to extended Spring Training in Clearwater, Fla. Zambrano is represented by Praver/Shapiro, as shown in MLBTR's Agency Database.
The 31-year-old Zambrano had previously agreed to a contract with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League but never signed the contract as he continued to look for employment with a Major League team.
After spending parts of 11 seasons with the Cubs from 2001-11, Zambrano was traded to the Marlins (along with quite a bit of cash) for Chris Volstad. Notoriously hot-headed, Zambrano drew negative press in Chicago for fighting with teammates Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee. In his final years with the Cubs, he was suspended once by the league and once by the team for his antics. As a member of the Marlins, he posted a 4.49 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 5.1 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9, and 49.1% groundball rate in 132 1/3 innings (20 starts and 15 relief appearances).
Zambrano's name comes with quite a bit of baggage, but he's also a very accomplished Major League pitcher. "Big Z" owns a career 3.66 ERA, 7.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 1,959 big league innings. He's made three All-Star teams, has three Top 5 Cy Young finishes and has a no-hitter under his belt as well. One of the best-hitting pitchers of the past decade, Zambrano also has three Silver Slugger Awards and a .238/.248/.388 batting line with 24 career homers.
Photo courtesty of USA Today Sports Images.
As Curtis Granderson gets set to return to the Yankees lineup, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that the club surprisingly doesn't need him. The strong play of Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay, and Travis Hafner has given the offense a major boost in the absence of Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis, and others, putting them atop the division with a 24-14 record. Here's more from the American League East..
- Jair Jurrjens will make his Orioles debut against the Rays on Saturday to fill in for the injured Wei-Yin Chen, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The pitcher posted a 3.14 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 across eight starts in Triple-A and had an opt out date of June 15th. The Orioles can open a 40-man roster spot for Jurrjens by transferring Brian Roberts to the 60-day DL, notes Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
- More and more teams are realizing that it makes sense to gamble earlier lock up young players for the long-term and Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the Yankees need to reconsider their policy of going year-to-year. The Yankees are trying to lower their payroll and one way to do so is to gain cost certainty with deals like the one Anthony Rizzo received from the Cubs.
- Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston isn't ready to give up on the team this season, writes Chris Toman of MLB.com. He also isn't ready to give up on the coaching staff. "We started out at 12-24 and made a managerial change, but we're not going to do that right now," Beeston said. "I think you look back at 1989 and just look back at what can be after what was. I think we have a very good team and a better team than our record."
- Speaking of Toronto, the Blue Jays are the leaders to sign Venezuelan shortstop Yeltsin Gudino, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. Gudino is a well-rounded talent who has also received serious interest from the Rangers and A's in the past.
- Kubatko ran Carlos Zambrano's name past someone in the Orioles organization and got a less-than-enthusiastic response based on the pitcher's past behavior and baggage.
- Rizzo's absence is being felt in the Red Sox organization as the club has long-term questions at first base, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.