One of the many pieces the Chicago Cubs would no doubt like to move is currently-restricted pitcher Carlos Zambrano. Still away from the team while he receives anger management treatment and evaluation, Zambrano would likely welcome a trade – despite his no-trade clause – as he’s going to be stuck in the bullpen upon his return to the Cubs. But could the Cubs actually manage to trade him?
Even if Zambrano were willing to waive his no-trade clause, the remaining $40 million-plus left on a contract that runs through 2012 is the obvious hurdle.
But the closer we get to the July 31 non-waiver deadline — and depending on how tough it is to get Cliff Lee from Seattle for contenders in need — Zambrano’s potential market could widen at least modestly.
The White Sox suddenly are down a starting pitcher, in the thick of a division race. And the Cubs’ opponent this weekend, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are seeking a starter and have been looking hard at Houston’s Roy Oswalt.
Dodgers manager Joe Torre sidestepped a question about potential interest in Zambrano.
”That’s tampering,” Torre said, adding, ”It’s sad what this kid must be going through. That’s all I can say. It’s nice to help your team, but I hate to see … I’m glad that people are dealing with stuff. It’s not easy.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.
The White Sox possibility is a legitimate one. Setting aside the new need – due to the Jake Peavy injury – there are two other reasons for optimism regarding a Zambrano-White Sox trade. First, Zambrano likes Chicago, and getting him to waive his no-trade clause to go across town would be a cinch. Second, Ozzie Guillen likes Zambrano. Better still, he could probably handle Zambrano.
Still, the question is whether Kenny Williams – like it or lump it, the guy is a shrewd GM – would take on a risk like Zambrano.
Otherwise, it remains to be seen whether teams would actually view Zambrano is a worthwhile option to add to their rotation as they make a run at the playoffs. Sure, he’s been great as recently as a year ago, but since mid-season last year, few have been worse or more inconsistent. And that’s before you even consider the crazy factor. I have a hard time envisioning a team considering Zambrano a legitimate back-up plan to acquiring Cliff Lee – at least not while Ted Lilly is also available.
Regardless, set your expectations low: the Cubs will receive salary relief or a couple decent prospects for Zambrano, but not both.
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