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Today the Chicago Cubs effectively suspended Carlos Zambrano in response to his action last night, which culminated in Zambrano packing up his things and leaving the team before last night’s game had ended, telling those he saw that he was “retiring.”

Zambrano will be on the disqualified list for 30 days without pay, and cannot have contact with the team during that time. Jim Hendry, who hasn’t spoken with Zambrano, called his actions “intolerable.”

This was the best first step, as near as I can tell. Releasing Z now would preclude the Cubs from trying to recoup anything through a trade, would preclude the Cubs from finding out if Z really does want to retire, and would force the Cubs to give Z the $21-22 million he’s still owed. This way, the Cubs don’t pay him while they – and he – figure things out.

Predictably, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Players’ Association is expected to file a grievance on behalf of Zambrano.

What happens next remains unknown. Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, has reportedly said that Zambrano “isn’t in the retirement mode” (shocker that his agent would say Zambrano doesn’t want to leave $20 million on the table). There will probably be a cooling period, during which the Cubs will look to dump Zambrano. If they’re unsuccessful, he might well come back in September, though it’s unlikely. The chances he’s on the team in 2012 are even more unlikely.

If this feels like deja vu, it should: the Cubs placed Zambrano on the restricted list (which has a similar effect) last year after his dugout blowup with teammate Derrek Lee.

UPDATE: From the official press release, this nugget strikes me as interesting phrasing from the Cubs (emphasis mine):

The disqualified list includes a period of 30 days without pay and no activity with the ball club. During this time, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association will discuss recent statements attributed to Zambrano regarding his baseball future.

Translation? The Cubs are going to try and argue that Zambrano indeed retired, and the Cubs indeed accepted his retirement. It’s not likely to fly, but it’s an interesting (and legally-fascinating) approach.

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  • http://www.calliopevoices.com TheBigMustafa

    Love Z. Love him. He’s colorful…makes the game a little more fun.

    But…it’s over. What was once colorful is now ridiculous. He’s no longer the hyper-frenetic overly ebullient kid. He’s become an angry buffoon…seemingly blaming the world for his on-field failings.

    I can live with his skills failing. That’s part of life. I can live with having to ride out a bad contract. That’s business. This nonsense? Pass.

    It’s over. Sadly.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Indeed, on all counts.

    • Ol’CharlieBrown

      Well said, TheBigMustafa. I couldn’t agree more.

  • Lou

    Always knew he was this way. Could see the signs before he got that big contract. Unfortunately, the Cubs have only themselves to blame. They put themselves in this mess by giving Zambrano #1 starter money, when….gee…he clearly WAS NEVER a #1 starter. When you put someone into this kind of a leadership role who’s emotionally violatile, this sort of thing happens. The Cubs HAVE TO cut ties with him…they can’t continue to allow this.

  • BFM

    Brett

    You beat me by a few minutes…..haha!

    Anyway, is the restricted list and disqualified list different?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks for that, because, yes, there is a slight difference, and Z is on the disqualified list, not the restricted list. The effect is the same on both (don’t count toward roster, no pay), but the reasoning is slightly different. Disqualified list means you violated your contract.

      • Toosh

        If, indeed, the disqualified list means Zambrano was in violation of his contract, the Cubs should be able to void the contract.

        • ron

          I think this is why Hendry made his statement so awkwardley early is this afair. (apparently spelling goes first)

  • Toosh

    If Zambrano spends the full 30 days on the suspended list, there will be 17 days left on the major league regular season schedule. His season is over.

  • Jeremy E

    So what would you say the chances are that the Cubs won’t have to pay Zambrano most if not all of his contract and that he will retire?

  • Toosh

    He won’t retire. He and the Cubs will work something out after the season and he’ll pitch somewhere next year. If the Cubs have their way, it’ll be in the A.L.

  • Travis

    Hopefully the Players Union doesn’t come in and screw the Cubs by making them pay any kind of salary for next year. If they don’t all of that 19 million can straight to Albert.

  • al

    WHAT A PUD!!! adios bitchbag!!

  • Jason

    This is what I think will happen : Zambrano will not get the full 22 million still owed him because of his actions now and from the past but I do see something like this.

    Cubs will pay Zambrano 66 to 75 percent of what he is owed but that will be paid over a period of time. Let’s say they come to an agreement of 15 Million. The Cubs can pay that in a period of 3 Million a Year for 5 years or 5 Million for 3 years. Either way this will bring an end to Z’s career as a Cub and Help the Cubs in Salary Relief even more for next season.

    I was thinking A-ram was going to return for next season but with this Zambrano mess and if they do work something out that A-ram’s chances of returning increases by a bunch !!!

  • BFM

    I agree
    I think that the MLBPA and the Cubs are going to have to work out a deal to get this done before next season and so it doesn’t interfere with next year’s team.

    I think the Cubs will be on the hook for a bunch of the $$$$$. However, if the Cubs get lucky, they can spread it all out over the next few years and it will give them more money to spend during the offseason.

    Here’s a hypothetical: What if the Cubs took the money they owe Z, got it reduced, slid the savings onto Soriano’s contract and got somebody else to take on some of his salary too! Then we could be rid of him as well.

    Now that would be great!

  • Dave

    *sigh*

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2011/08/cubs-to-retain-gm-jim-hendry.html

    Nice guy Jim is going to be the one dealing with this mess.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I wouldn’t get too upset by that yet.

    • pfk

      The more I look at it, the more I think this is probably true. One of the reasons Ricketts may be so quiet about it is that he wants to wait until after the season to announce Hendry is coming back. This way, fans won’t go crazy and Hendry will have enough time to make some moves to keep the fans quiet by the start of Spring Training. Ricketts may indeed hire a new president but I think Hendry gets another year. And Quade most likely returns as well.

  • Caleb

    I say we make a deal with Z. A full year off, no pay. During that year he trains, rocky style, in both some outfielding (or 2b) and hitting. Then he competes for a starting spot in left or at second. Should he win a spot, and have a season of 30+ homers and an ops over .975, he gets all his 2011,2012,and 2013 money.

  • Robbo

    If Zambo retires the $$ it frees up could put the Cubs on the fast track to reloading. Zambo could be responsible for helping the Cubs build towards the future. I really hope they are still selling Zambrano is my pizano t-shirts…I’m buying one

  • CubSouth

    I had tickets to this weekends series against the Braves. Of course I couldn’t go due to work issues and that happens last night! On my watch, nonetheless. I will b there tomorrow though! I’m calling in!

  • Jeff

    Javier Baez is signed, we can all breath a sigh of relief.

  • jt

    http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/MlbTradeRumors/~3/_tZzWXQwjQs/cubs-to-retain-gm-jim-hendry.html

    i want to work for the cubs front office. apparently you can really suck at your job for years without any fear of getting fired.

  • JW

    So long Z, good riddance, maybe you can go play ball with milton bradley. If only hendry could go with him!

  • JB

    I’m encouraged. The Cubs are acting like a real franchise.

  • Spencer

    well, hopefully coleman will get some starts now. and maybe cashner? probably not though.

  • dick

    I see that Hendry apologized to the Braves for Z’s actions. When is Hendry going to apologize to the Cubs fans for his incompetence?

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