One of the hot rumors at the moment is that the Cubs "didn’t say no" when the Phillies asked for Mark Prior in return for Bobby Abreu. This Philadelphia Daily News article only fueled the fire.
Hopefully putting the rumor to bed, Bruce Levine quoted Jim Hendry recently on ESPN Radio 1000 as saying Prior for Abreu is not an option. According to Levine, Carlos Zambrano is off the table as well.
While the Cubs need a shakeup and Abreu is a star, dealing one of their young, cheap ace pitchers isn’t the solution. Prior had home run and walk problems in 2005. Add in some injury concerns, and his value may be at an all-time low. Given his career 10.5 K/9 mark over 613 innings, Prior still has the chance to take back his spot as one of the best pitchers in the league.
Zambrano actually is one of the best pitchers in the NL. The 24 year old has a 3.26 career ERA and has pitched 200 innings in each of his three full seasons. Here’s how his overall ranking in the NL for each of the last three seasons, according to Baseball Prospectus’s VORP statistic.
2003 – 11th
2004 – 4th
2005 – 10th
While Abreu should certainly bring a young pitcher in return, Hendry would be overpaying to include Prior or Zambrano. Given Abreu’s salary and age, Erik Bedard seems like a more appropriate bounty.