A trade that can turn into a win-win situation for all parties involved regarding Carlos Zambrano is in the works. Most sites initially reported that this deal is done, but new reports are it could be done by the end of the week sending Big Z to the Marlins with at least $15 million of his $18 million contract paid for by the Cubs in return for right-hander, Chris Volstad, with part of his contract paid by the Marlins. Volstad is owed around $3 million for 2012. The only hold-up is pending physicals according to MLB sources.
Volstad has never lived up to his potential and a change of scenery might be just what he needs to get on track with a WHIP of 1.42 he has a lot of work to do. Even if he doesn’t work out the fact that Theo Epstein has spared the Cubs another year of drama and bad press with Zambrano even is worth it.
Epstein did what Jim Hendry would not do last season when rumors were circulating that the Cubs had interested parties in Zambrano if the Cubs covered one-year of the two years left on his deal. Hendry decided to buy into the Zambrano song and dance, and keep him around another season that ended in disaster in Atlanta. We all know the story, so no need to rehash the details.
With Big Z leaving where does that leave the Cubs with Matt Garza? Rumors coming out of Boston still have Garza being the compensation for Epstein that could be the reason that has not been taken care of yet. Other rumors have Garza being traded away to pitcher hungry teams for top prospects, but if Garza does get traded what does that do for the Cubs this season?
Epstein still has a commitment to put fans in the seats and if he completely blows up the rotation and does not sign Prince Fielder Wrigley Field will be emptier than last season. We’ll be reading more special interest stories about beer vendors unable to sell one case of beer in the upper deck because of lack of attendance. If Garza goes the Cubs starting rotation would consist of Ryan Dempster, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells, Andy Sonnastine, and Travis Wood that makes for some long afternoons on the Northside.
If you keep Garza you build the rotation around him, but Epstein is looking at value in return and he can get the most from Garza. Dempster or Wells would not bring the same top rated talent pool.
From the Marlins point of view they’ve improved their rotation considerably statistically with Zambrano’s numbers being far superior to Volstad. The biggest question will be, “can Ozzie control him?” Ozzie thinks so, but so did Sweet Lou and then you start to hear its “Carlos being Carlos.” Once you hear that it’s over.
Zambrano is also pitching this season for $19 million next season, which was a reason enough for the Cubs to trade him. If he finishes in the top four of Cy Young voting he has a $19 million vesting option in his contract for 2013, a huge chunk of change that the Cubs definitely did not want on their books.
Again, if you’re the Marlins and Big Z pitches that well, you are probably in the playoffs this season with the talented roster that’s been put together to fill their new stadium, so absorbing a $19 million hit in 2013 would not be a big deal for the Marlins.
You have to give Epstein credit for finally doing what should have been by Hendry two years ago. It sure is going to be a quiet baseball season in Chicago now, but the constant chatter coming from Miami might be loud and annoying enough to make to up this way. Let’s hope not, but that seems impossible.