Carlos Zambrano Rumors
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.
5:02pm: Moore clarified his remarks to MLB.com'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 (CSNChicago.com'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.
Today the Cubs introduced two of the top assistants for president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. They named Jed Hoyer their executive VP and general manager and Jason McLeod their senior VP of scouting and player development. Here's the latest from this afternoon's press conference:
- Though Epstein didn’t rule anything out, he said free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez will probably not return to Chicago. “Likely he'll be moving on," Epstein said, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter links).
- Epstein says he had an enlightening conversation with Carlos Zambrano’s agent and is looking forward to speaking to the right-hander himself, according to Wittenmyer.
- The Cubs expect to reach a decision on manager Mike Quade’s future within a week, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (Twitter links).
- MLB may give the Cubs and Red Sox an extension to determine appropriate compensation for Epstein, Boston’s former GM, according to Muskat.
- Hoyer stressed the importance of building from within today, according to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). "Relying on external solutions to building a winning baseball team is a bad idea, and it's something we need to get past," the GM said.
The Marlins are considering making a serious run at Rays right-hander James Shields, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The two sides have some natural match-up on a trade because the Marlins could dangle Logan Morrison as part of a package for the right-hander.
Shields drew interest from a number of clubs at the deadline including the Tigers and Reds but the Rays opted to hang on to him instead. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says that he would like to maintain the team's pitching depth, but Shields would be a huge trading chip this winter.
Meanwhile, Olney writes that in spite of the speculation about Carlos Zambrano joining up with Ozzie Guillen in Florida, there isn't a lot of momentum behind this within the Marlins organization. The club's opposition to the move has more to do with the way Zambrano's stuff has regressed than his personality history.
At least one division series per league is going to a full five games this year, with the first elimination game taking place in the Bronx tomorrow night. Here are some links to read in the meantime...
- A's GM Billy Beane and MLB.com's Peter Gammons reflect on the decision Beane made in 2002, when he nearly joined the Red Sox before realizing he wanted to remain in Oakland. Gammons compares Beane to Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who is at a similar career crossroads now that Boston missed the playoffs and the Cubs are interested in him as their next GM.
- The Angels are also looking for a new general manager and former GM Jim Bowden compiles a list of candidates at ESPN.com. Kim Ng of MLB, Jason McLeod of the Padres and Bill Geivett of the Rockies are among the names on Bowden's list (MLBTR's list of GM Candidates offers some more candidates to consider).
- Though the Rangers wanted Cliff Lee last offseason, they have many reasons to celebrate the near-miss, Jon Paul Morosi writes at FOX Sports. Texas signed Adrian Beltre, whose three-homer game sent them back to the ALCS, instead.
- Jim Margalus of South Side Sox looks back at Mark Buehrle's last contract and determines that it was a good one for the White Sox because the left-hander didn't really age.
- Carlos Zambrano knows his future with the Cubs is undetermined until they hire a GM, but he says he is talking with new Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen on a near-daily basis, according to Ormúz Jesús Sojo of Líder en Deportes (translation via MLBTR's Nick Collias).
- Check out Rumores de Béisbol for all of the latest rumors in Spanish.
Some links pertaining to baseball's Eastern divisions for your Sunday evening reading:
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wonders if the reason we've yet to hear anything regarding Thursday's summit involving Orioles owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is because Angelos has convinced MacPhail to stay with the club in an advisory capacity. MacPhail will give up his current title, but Schmuck believes Angelos would give him any title he desired short of co-owner to keep him around.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports believes Buck Showalter should remain the manager of the Orioles, not take over the position of GM. That said however, Showalter needs to work closely with the new GM to honestly evaluate the organization on all levels to turn the franchise around.
- Rays manager Joe Maddon endorses his bench coach Davey Martinez wholeheartedly for the White Sox managerial opening, and told Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune that he'd "do somersaults" if Martinez got the job, despite how difficult he'd be to replace.
- It's probably implied by the five-year deal he's seeking, but Jimmy Rollins won't be offering the Phillies a hometown discount, according to this MLB.com report from Todd Zolecki, Brian McTaggart, and Nate Mink.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes that Cliff Lee is one of the most popular athletes in recent Philadelphia history, and spoke with GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and the $120MM man himself about his decision to return to the Phillies last offseason.
- The Miami Sun Sentinel's Juan C. Rodriguez questions whether pitching for Ozzie Guillen and the Marlins and getting away from Chicago would make Carlos Zambrano a better citizen. While Zambrano could change in Miami, Rodriguez points out his declining K/9 and increasing WHIP as red flags that need to be considered along with his character.
Ozzie Guillen and Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano recently spoke on the phone and discussed the possibility of the hurler joining the Marlins, according to Ignacio Serrano of El Nacional (Spanish link). Serrano spoke with Félix Luzón, a friend of Zambrano's who was present during the call.
Luzón says that nothing is official but a deal could be reached where the Cubs cut the 30-year-old loose and give him the $18MM that he is owed in deferred payments. Cubs manager Mike Quade recently said that he would ideally like to have Zambrano back in 2012, but didn't sound optimistic about it happening.
Translation of the article was provided by Nick Collias.
The Cubs have designated right-handers Justin Berg and Brian Schlitter for assignment, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. In a corresponding move, Carlos Zambrano has been placed back on the club's 40-man roster.
Zambrano was placed on the disqualified list on August 13 following a tirade following a rough start against the Braves and then shut down for the season after that 30-day suspension was up. The MLBPA has a pending grievance on Zambrano's behalf looking to recoup some of the approximately $3MM in salary that Zambrano lost, since players aren't paid for their time on the disqualified list. Zambrano is owed $18MM in 2012 and, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explored in August, the Cubs would probably have to absorb another bad contract if they wanted to trade the hurler.
Berg, 27, has made 60 appearances out of the bullpen for the Cubs over the last three seasons, compiling a 4.08 ERA in 64 innings and an even 27 strikeouts to 27 walks.
Schlitter, 25, was drafted by the Phillies in 2007 and came to Chicago in the Scott Eyre deal in August 2008. He has eight Major League innings under his belt, all in 2010, and has a career ERA of 12.38. Schlitter had been on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow injury that kept him in the Cubs organization through the 2011 season. He was picked up on waivers by both the Yankees and Phillies last winter before being returned to Chicago because Major League Baseball judged his elbow to be a pre-existing injury.
ESPN's Wayne Drehs has the story of Pat Looney, the man who almost became a scapegoat for Cubs fans in 2003 instead of Steve Bartman. ESPN's Bartman film airs tonight at 7pm central time. The latest on the Cubs:
- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is unlikely to leave Boston for the Cubs post after a "moment of epic failure," in the opinion of Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- There's a good chance Carlos Zambrano joins Ozzie Guillen in Miami, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Cubs sources expect the team to reconcile with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg before next season, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Sandberg managed the Phillies' Triple-A club this year but is said to be open to managing the Cubs with Jim Hendry out of the picture.
- Brewers' third baseman Casey McGehee told the Sun-Times he can relate to Bryan LaHair having to shake off the 4-A label. The 28-year-old LaHair hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs in 523 Triple-A plate appearances this year.
The Cubs project for the seventh overall pick in next year's draft, though it's a tight race. The latest on the club:
- Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez said yesterday that he'd probably played his last game as a Cub, noting that he's ready to move on and expects to hit the open market. Today, Ramirez told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he doesn't think interim GM Randy Bush has the power to sign a big free agent, therefore nothing will come of today's meeting between Bush and his agent Paul Kinzer. Ramirez still prefers to stay with the Cubs, but he doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding process. If he hits the market, he'll easily be the best third baseman available.
- Kinzer also represents Starlin Castro, Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol, and John Grabow, notes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, so today's meeting probably won't just be about Ramirez.
- Manager Mike Quade answered a question about Carlos Zambrano from Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald, saying, "I'd like his arm back if he fit into the mix. But it would be tough for him to come back, for me." The Zambrano situation will be a tough assignment for the new GM.
- Quade expects to be back next year, he told Sullivan and other reporters.
- Longtime Cubs adviser Gary Hughes resigned yesterday, and ESPN's Buster Olney thinks he could land with the Marlins.