Ken Rosenthal says of Carlos Zambrano:
"Imagine him wearing another uniform next season. Barring a sudden, unexpected twist, that’s where this is going."
He goes on to run through various Zambrano suitors for the upcoming offseason: the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Astros, Angels, Dodgers, and Tigers. Rosenthal throws the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, and Phillies into the mix as well. Might as well include the Blue Jays on that list as well.
As a lifelong Cubs fan, obviously it would be hard for me to see Zambrano depart. The biggest blunder in Cubs history was letting a 27 year-old Greg Maddux become a Brave.
Still, I do wonder whether unlike Mad Dog at the time, Z’s best years are behind him. His climbing walk rate is scary, and you can’t help but question the long-term health prospects for a power pitcher with his mileage. What can we expect from Zambrano’s age 27-31 seasons? I really like the Mark Gubicza comparison. Both are big righties who logged roughly 1,000 Major League innings before their 26th birthdays. Gubicza was a horse up until his age 28 season, when the wear and tear started to catch up with him.
If Zambrano straightens himself out and wins 15 games and the Cubs make the playoffs, fans will be clamoring for his retention. However, the big picture outlook says to let him walk and take the draft picks, or even trade him in July. The contract will be for a minimum five years, and perhaps as many as seven if he hits the open market. $17MM annually might be below market value, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.