Carlos Zambrano Rumors
May 13: Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes that Zambrano's name still doesn't appear on the Ducks' roster. Zambrano and the Ducks did indeed reach an agreement, according to Knobler's sources, but a contract has yet to be signed.
May 8: Righty Carlos Zambrano has signed with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, tweets Chris Cotillo of CLNS Radio. MLB.com's Carrie Muskat has confirmed the signing (also via Twitter).
As Ducks president and GM Michael Pfaff recently explained to MLBTR's Zach Links, the team prioritizes winning but wants to "help players with their careers, help them continue their careers, and help them get back to the major leagues." That's surely Zambrano's plan. The 31-year-old righty joined the Marlins via trade in January 2012, posting 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, a three-time All-Star, was a workhorse for the Cubs from 2003-07, averaging 215 innings per season.
From the '07 fight with teammate Michael Barrett, the five-year, $91.5MM contract signed that year, all kinds of odd ailments, the no-hitter in '08 against the Astros at Miller Park, the '09 on-field tantrum that led to a six-game suspension, problems with Cubs management, the move to the bullpen and back, the issue with Derrek Lee in '10 that led to a team-mandated suspension, his placement on the disqualified list in '11, to the salary dump trade to Miami, Z's final years as a Cub were tumultuous to say the least.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said his team would scout Carlos Zambrano at some point but told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury that reports out of Venezuela that the team had reached an agreement with the veteran hurler were "ridiculously premature." FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Phils weren't in the process of signing Zambrano and if they did check in on him, it could be something of a due diligence scouting move.
With Roy Halladay and John Lannan both on the disabled list, Amaro said earlier this week that he was in the market for starting pitching help. Zambrano would fit the bill as a low-cost veteran who could eat some innings for the Phillies, though Zambrano spent the last two months of the 2012 season pitching out of the Marlins' bullpen. Zambrano didn't draw any interest in the offseason and even explored signing in Taiwan before he signed a deal to pitch for the independent Long Island Ducks on Wednesday.
Zambrano has a 4.66 ERA over 278 innings with the Marlins and Cubs over the last two seasons. He has generated as many headlines about his temper and other off-the-field issues as he has about his pitching, but Zambrano is still just 31 years old and has three top-five finishes in NL Cy Young voting to his name.
A year ago today, the Indians signed Johnny Damon to a one-year contract with the hope that clean-shaven caveman could bolster their lineup. Damon hit just .222/.281/.329 in 224 plate appearances for the Tribe. This offseason, there was no penny-pinching by the Indians, as they signed Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds to bolster the club. Here are some links from around the league...
- Carlos Zambrano is at Wrigley Field today, which sparked a great deal of speculation, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Zambrano is merely visiting. The Cubs aren't interested in a reunion.
- Red Sox minor league left-hander Miguel Pena and right-hander Gerson Bautista have both been suspended 50 games for violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Pena ranked 30th among Red Sox prospects, according to BA, who noted that his clean delivery and plus changeup gave him the ceiling of a No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
- Hanley Ramirez is anticipating a return to the Dodgers "way sooner" than his initially projected return of mid-May, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. The Dodgers have gotten next to no production from Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers in his absence.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post gives the "small sample size" caveat in noting that traded players such as John Buck, Michael Morse and Justin Upton are excelling. Vernon Wells and Michael Young have looked better than salary dumps thus far as well, Sherman continues.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden lists five impulsive moves that the GMs of contenders such as the Rays, Tigers, Angels, Cardinals and Giants should make to immediately improve their clubs' biggest weaknesses (ESPN Insider required).
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the 2014 free agent class and busy weeks for the Mariners and Indians on the most recent edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast. While you check that out, here's more from around baseball on this Wednesday night..
- In an interview with WEEI's Dennis & Callahan this morning, Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino discussed the team's philosophy regarding free agents and their approach to Josh Hamilton this winter, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier. “I think we have to keep all avenues open. There was discussion about Hamilton. But when it became clear that it was likely to be a five-, six-, seven-year contract, we thought there was a better way to redeploy the money we had saved from similar long-term contracts," Lucchino said.
- A source tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter) that Carlos Zambrano may sign in Japan on Taiwan if he can't land a major league deal this offseason. Big Z is a free agent after posting a 4.49 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in 20 starts and 15 relief appearances last season.
- The Angels' new trio of starters could prove to be a great bargain, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. Jason Vargas, Tommy Hanson, and Joe Blanton will earn a combined $18.725MM this season. Some feel that the Halos' rotation is their weakpoint, but they apparently won't be making a run at Kyle Lohse.
- More from Speier, who looked at the Red Sox's new approach to roster building in the wake of last season's blockbuster with the Dodgers.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune is back with his regular chat with fans about the Padres, and here are some of the relevant hot stove items...
- The Padres have been talking to right-hander Brett Myers, according to Myers' agent. San Diego would use Myers as a starting pitcher, which is Myers' preferred role after spending 2012 coming out of the bullpen for the Astros and White Sox.
- The Tigers are reconsidering trading Rick Porcello, who has drawn attention from the Padres and several other clubs since Detroit re-signed Anibal Sanchez. If Porcello is available, Center feels it would take more than a rumored trade package of Luke Gregerson and Jesus Guzman for the Padres to acquire the right-hander.
- It's a "gamble on both sides" for Chase Headley and the Padres that there are apparently no extension talks taking place between the club and the third baseman. Headley is under team control for two more years, but a repeat of his 2012 numbers could make him too expensive for the Padres to lock up.
- Everth Cabrera has drawn trade interest but most clubs (including the Padres) aren't sure if he is capable of being an everyday shortstop. Center notes that San Diego has been shopping "several" of its middle infielders this winter.
- The Padres are "actively seeking" starting pitching but aren't going to be forced into making a bad signing just for the sake of adding an arm to the rotation.
- Between Porcello, Shaun Marcum and Joe Saunders, Center lists Marcum as the most likely of the trio to be a Padre in 2013, followed by Saunders and Porcello in that order.
- The Padres won't be adding another outfielder as they already have several options on the roster.
- Center doesn't expect the Padres to have a $100MM payroll within the next few years, even adding an "if ever" to the idea.
- The Padres want to bring back Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer on minor league contracts. The two pitchers elected to become free agents in October following injury-plagued 2012 seasons.
- Center hasn't heard of the Padres having any interest in Carlos Zambrano.
Royals owner David Glass recently said that the team is "committed to improving (their) starting pitching" while also indicating a willingness to operate at a financial loss to be competitive. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star has the latest on the team...
- “Our market is what it is,” said GM Dayton Moore. “We’re not going to have a payroll of $100MM. We know that going into it. We embrace who we are ... We’ve got to stay consistent with our approach. We’re not going get crazy and go nuts in free agency.”
- There are indications that the Royals have Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse at the top of their free agent target list. Bringing Zack Greinke back for a second tour of duty is unlikely.
- The team's list of secondary pitching targets is believed to include Ryan Dempster, Hiroki Kuroda, Shaun Marcum, Carlos Villanueva, and Carlos Zambrano. They will also monitor pitchers who could have club options declined, like Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
- “Absolutely ... I think any pitcher would be fortunate to pitch here," said right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, an impending free agent the team would like to retain. They are unwilling to go beyond a two-year deal, however.
- Moore acknowledged that there is a chance of working out a new contract with Guthrie during the exclusive negotiating window prior to free agency.
- “I wouldn’t say anybody is untouchable,” said Moore with regards to potential trade talks. “You go into any discussion with an open mind. That being said, there are certain positions on the diamond that are very difficult to replace ... You don’t want to compromise in one area just to get strong in another area.”
- Dutton estimates that the Royals could have $20-23MM to spend this winter while keeping the current roster intact.
The Athletics, Orioles, Pirates and Indians are pursuing Chase Headley most aggressively, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. The Pirates and Indians seem less motivated to complete a deal now, but the A’s and Orioles haven’t backed off. The Diamondbacks, Phillies and Yankees checked in on Headley, and the Dodgers were seriously interested until they traded for Hanley Ramirez. Here are the rest of Stark’s rumors...
- The Braves are telling teams they’re shifting their focus away from the rotation to possible bullpen and bench upgrades, Stark reports.
- The Marlins are working hard to trade Carlos Zambrano and Carlos Lee, Stark writes. Ricky Nolasco is also available.
- The Rangers are mainly focused on Zack Greinke and James Shields, but the odds of a trade involving Shields are diminishing because Evan Longoria is on his way back to the Rays’ lineup.
- The Cubs are offering to absorb all but $2MM of Alfonso Soriano’s contract, Stark writes. The left fielder earns $18MM per season through 2014 and the Cubs might take it all on for the right prospect.
- The Phillies are still considering trading Shane Victorino, but they are likely to wait a few days before making a decision on his future.
- The Padres have told teams they are likely to trade Huston Street if they can’t sign him to an extension. The Padres are expected to attempt to lock Street up to a one-year extension.
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty "feels a need to do something" and has asked around for a middle-of-the-order hitter, Stark reports.
- President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said new manager Ozzie Guillen "was a major force" in the Zambrano trade, reports Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald (on Twitter). Guillen and Zambrano are friends and countrymen.
- “We really liked him when we saw him at that workout [in November],” said Beinfest to Mike Bernardino of The Sun Sentinel, referring to Yoenis Cespedes. “It’s something we’re continuing to monitor, and we’ll kind of leave it there. But we were very impressed. Obviously, as a Cuban we think it would be an interesting fit in this market and on this ballclub. It’s something we continue to monitor and stay up on.”
- Bernardino says teams will submit a sealed bid for Cespedes to his agent Adam Katz through MLB, then have an opportunity to increase their offers. It's unclear if this is an official process, or just how Katz will attempt to find a suitor for the outfielder.
- Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald says (on Twitter) that the Marlins will withdraw from the Cespedes derby if his price tag exceeds $60MM.
The Cubs officially traded Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today, paying all but $2.5MM of the $18MM owed to him next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke to reporters after the trade was announced, so let's recap...
- "Best case scenario is that if it did work, [Zambrano would] be leaving as a free agent at the end of the year," said Epstein to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "Or, if we had to spend that money anyways as a sunk cost, would we rather spend it on a 25-year-old who we can put in our rotation and control for three seasons? That made a lot more sense."
- "At some point in the future, if there's a transaction that makes sense with any of our players that puts the Cubs in a better position moving forward, we are going to pursue it," said Epstein to ESPN's Chicago's Bruce Levine. "But in respect to [Alfonso Soriano], he has power and is an offensive contributor. We can work with him to get the best out of him and see where that takes us."
- A couple of teams have inquired about Soriano according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter), but so far the Cubs have been unable to find a match. The outfielder still has three years at $18MM per season left on his contract.
The 2012 Marlins just got a little more interesting. In case Ozzie Guillen, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell didn’t add enough intrigue to the upcoming season, the team has officially acquired Carlos Zambrano from the Cubs for Chris Volstad. The Marlins will pay $2.5MM of Zambrano's $18MM salary in 2012.
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein had a productive meeting with Zambrano after the season, but the right-hander hadn'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.
Zambrano waived his no-trade clause to play for Guillen, his friend and fellow Venezuelan. Zambrano also waived his $19.25MM option for 2013, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (all Twitter links). His deal now includes a $100K bonus for winning Comeback Player of the Year in 2012. Zambrano settled his summer grievance with the Cubs, obtaining 24 days of salary (nearly $2.4MM), according to Rosenthal.
The deal gives the Marlins a projected rotation of Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Zambrano. It presumably takes the Marlins out of the running for another Cubs starter: right-hander Matt Garza.
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.
Volstad, a 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.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the teams were nearing a deal (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel and Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago also contributed to the story as it broke. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.