Despite the Chicago Cubs’ obvious interest in unloading Carlos Zambrano, and the obvious signals coming from both the Cubs and Zambrano that a deal should happen, the Cubs are finding it rather difficult to actually complete a deal. As I caveated in the latter post, to make a deal, the Cubs will at least have to find a tiny bit of interest – no matter how much money they’re willing to eat.

Unfortunately, that tiny bit of interest is hard to come by.

Bruce Levine reports that, according to a Major League source, there is no interest around baseball in making a deal for Zambrano. A separate source says that the Yankees – whom Buster Olney has suggested is the Cubs’ preferred trade partner in a Zambrano deal – haven’t spoken with the Cubs about Zambrano in a month.

Zambrano is owed about $24 million over the rest of this season and the 2012 season. The Cubs have reportedly offered to cover a majority of that money to make a move, which would seemingly get a deal done to any number of teams. Zambrano is in the midst of his worst season in a decade, to be sure, but, since 2003, he’s never had an ERA+ below 117 in a complete season. He was at 128 last year, which was his best in five years.

Ultimately, while it still appears likely that Zambrano will be dealt, if not this week, then after the season, I remain unclear on the precise reason. Is it a clubhouse issue? Is it his declining performance? Is it something else of which we’re unaware?

Because, as things stand, there is no real replacement for Zambrano ready to go. And, for all his struggles this year, I don’t see a better option for 2012 in the system right now. Nor is there a clearly better option – considering the expected contract – on the free agent market for 2012.

(While I have your attention, please consider doing me a huge (but super easy) favor by nominating Bleacher Nation for the Best Team-Specific Site for these awards.)

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