With Carlos Zambrano on the disqualified list awaiting a grievance hearing, and the Cubs already in this-guy-has-to-go-so-lets-bury-him-in-the-media-for-no-discernable-reason mode, it’s time to start speculating on the ways – short of a release – the Cubs could rid themselves of Zambrano. If the Cubs could move Milton Bradley for a moderately useable piece (for one year, anyway) in Carlos Silva and some cash savings, how could it be impossible to move Carlos Zambrano?

Maybe it wouldn’t be impossible.

The good news, says Jayson Stark, is that, although most teams wouldn’t take Z for nothing, not every team feels that way. “I honestly think if he went to a veteran team, he’d be different,” one AL executive told Stark. “He couldn’t go just anywhere. He needs to go to a Philly, or the Yankees, or the Red Sox – a winning-type situation where he knew he couldn’t get out of line.”

The trade, itself, though, is likely to be a problem-for-problem swap, a la the Bradley/Silva deal. To that end, Stark suggests a handful of possibilities, including Carlos Lee (who’s owed $18.5 million in 2012), A.J. Burnett (who’s owed $16.5 million in 2012 and 2013), Barry Zito (who’s owed $46 million over 2012 and 2013 (with a buyout)), Derek Lowe (who’s owed $15 million in 2012), and Alfonso Soriano (hur hur hur).

Each suggestion comes with flaws, including the question of whether the Astros, Yankees, Giants, or Braves would even want Zambrano.

Tim Dierkes also went about theorizing on a handful of possible problem-for-problem trades the Cubs could make to rid themselves of Zambrano. Almost all of Dierkes’ suggestions are interesting and plausible (some of which were also suggested by Starks – I guess there’s a finite number of skull-crushingly bad contracts out there), but here are a few of the more intriguing ones:

Zambrano and $1MM to the Mariners for Chone Figgins. I can also picture this trade, as the money is very similar and Hendry and Jack Zduriencik swapped problems before. Figgins is under contract for an extra year, but the Cubs could release him if things don’t work out.

Zambrano to Orioles for Brian Roberts. Roberts is owed $2MM more than Z, but he may still have value if his concussion symptons go away. Plus, he was once a target of Hendry’s. However, former Cubs exec Andy MacPhail isn’t expected to be in charge of the O’s this offseason, and in general Zambrano is just a headache compared to whatever Roberts might give them.

Zambrano and $8MM to Red Sox for Daisuke Matsuzaka. In the best case, Dice-K might be able to provide a couple of months of post-Tommy John innings next year, so maybe Boston would prefer to try Zambrano in some capacity instead.

Zambrano to White Sox for Alex Rios and $20MM. The White Sox would reduce the years of their burden if not the money, while the Cubs could pray Rios bounces back next year or else cut him loose.

Zambrano to White Sox for Adam Dunn and $26MM. The problem with both White Sox scenarios is that it’s hard to see them sending so much money across town. Whereas from the Cubs’ point of view, they’d probably just release Zambrano rather than increase the commitment. That said, Dunn makes sense for the Cubs at first base next year if the money is a wash.

My vote out of these particular possibilities? You’ll crucify me, but I wouldn’t mind seeing what Adam Dunn could do back in the National League (and with a little f-you motivation in his belly). I the money was a pure wash, why on Earth wouldn’t you want to do it? The Cubs are on the verge of releasing Zambrano anyway, so, if Dunn doesn’t work out, you release him, no worse for the wear.

Ah, but you are a little worse: by adding Dunn in the offseason, the Cubs presumably wouldn’t pursue Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder. Of course, they might not pursue them anyway. The real question about Dunn, even if you get past his abysmal offense this year, is whether he can play passable first base anymore – he’s played there just 26 times this season.

Still, I think the risk might be worth it, given the lack of any other meaningful contributions to the Cubs that some other Zambrano trade could provide.

This is, of course, all academic at this point. But it’s interesting.

  • Dave_MKE

    Could we add Marmol for FREE with any of these deals?

  • gblan014

    Of all the deals described above, I think the two better ones would be either Adam Dunn or Derek Lowe. Let’s face it, 2011 is a write-off year as far as Dunn is concerned. He’s a much better hitter than that. As Brett points out though, he has to be able to play adequate 1B, lest the Cubs infield sets a ML record for errors in 2012…As for Lowe, I still think he has something left in the tank. His style of pitching would be well suited to Wrigley during those days where the wind is howling out. Plus, his contract is up after 2012 (like Zambrano’s). I think the Cubs, or any club for that matter, would take Derek Lowe on their 2012 team over Carlos Zambrano in a heartbeat.

  • CubFan Paul

    my vote: zambrano for AJ Burnett ..burnett would be a stud in the N.L. like Garza

    • MichiganGoat

      I don’t know if he’d be a stud but he’d do better here and remember he really wanted to join the Cubs before the Yanks overpaid for him.

      • CubFan Paul

        i’l take any longtime 3rd/4th A.L. starter for a N.L. rotation ..even Silva was “badass” when healthy last year

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If Burnett sucks in the AL and would be a stud in the NL, and Zambrano sucks (this year) in the NL… how would he do in the AL? So, why would the Yankees want to make that swap?

      • CubFan Paul

        Larry Rothschild & the $16.5mil burnett is owed in 2013 ..im quite sure Burnett could post a 3.5 – 4.1 ERA in 2012/13 for the cubs

      • MichiganGoat

        That why the Yanks didn’t trade for him already

      • EQ

        To me the Yanks or White Sox would be the best bets.. Z is buddies with Guillen and would probably love playing for him… Rotheschild could sway the Yanks to take on Z. there’s enough vets there to keep him underwraps and I’d take Burnett in a heartbeat.. without the pressure of NY and not much expected of him, 10 wins and a mid 4’s ERA would be an upgrade in our rotation.

        Dunn could be okay if he has a bounce back year.. I’m not totally thrilled about that though. I’d take his 38 HR’s if he could get back to those numbers.. but another “high strike out swing for the fences type” is exactly what we don’t need.

        • hardtop

          Dunn was playing first while konerko was out…. he sucks! obvioulsy he cant hit, having earned more golden sombreros than a mariachi band, but he is suck-tastic at first. almost makes fatty fielder look like an average defensive player….ok, maybe not that bad. i would rather eat z’s salary and resign pena (or play lahair) than do a shit swap for dunn. funny thing: i was kind of angry we didnt get him in the off season. shows what i know. it’s in my book as one of the best non-moves hendry ever made.
          …now watch him hit 40 bombs for the next 3 yrs straight.. haha.

  • MichiganGoat

    I don’t think Houston would ever trade for Z, but Carlos Lee has amazing career numbers at Wrigley. I would rather trade fr another contract that ends after 2012 than take on additional years and money for someone like Dunn. However I would seriously consider Zito for Soriano.

    • gblan014

      I agree with you that if we’re going for a bad contract swap, it would be way better if said bad contract that we take on doesn’t last longer than Z’s did. I guess that would be another knock against the Dunn deal. (Or the Burnett one too, for that matter)

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Keep in mind, the Dunn suggestion comes with cash – if you wanted Dunn to be a one-year guy, he could be. The years don’t matter if there’s enough cash in the deal to cover them.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yeah but as the article suggested the White Sox would have a hard time making that trade an equal cash value. I think we’d have to take on salary to make that happens.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Yeah, and that would probably undo it for me as well. I was just trying to discuss it as if it was going to be equal money. Then it gets really interesting.

  • Dean

    The best fix is just cut your losses. Waive Zambrano and just eat the salary.

    The salary is a sunk cost, so there is no point in having the salary on the books AND taking someone else’s problem. Also, the Cubs already have a glut of outfielders, so adding an outfielder makes no sense. Dunn is, well, done. And the pitchers (other than perhaps Burnett) are done as well.

    • MichiganGoat

      I think at the end of all this, that is exactly what will happen. Hopefully we can trade him for a useable bench/role player and a couple mil in savings.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Z’s salary on the books AND someone else’s problem? I’m not sure I see how it’s not an either or. The money is sunk, and the Cubs can have Zambrano with it, or someone else. If that someone else isn’t a head case and could potentially fill a position, that improves the team (because it saves the money that would have otherwise gone to filling that position, which can be put to use elsewhere).

      • EQ

        I agree, may as well try out someone so the money isn’t a total flush down the toilet.. at least Silva gave us a good half season..

  • MichiganGoat

    I would also be okay with the Figgins trade. He hasn’t had success in Seattle, but he is still in his early 30’s, can play both infield and outfield, and is average defensively. Hopefully a change in scenery would help and allow him to either become a super-sub or take over 3B or 2B if Barney slips next year. His bat and contract is a better risk than Dunn and his defense is at least average.

    • CubFan Paul

      OMG MG!! have you seen Figgins numbers since he’s been in Seattle??

      • CubFan Paul

        2010: .259/.340/.306/.646 with 1HR & 35rbi

        2011: .188/.241/.243/.484 with only 15rbi & 1HR in 81 games ..yikes

        i’ll take my chances with the $400k players Barney & LeMahieu

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          I was just looking at those numbers. Did something happen to him on the plane ride to Seattle for him to have dropped off a cliff like he did? I have no point of reference for just about anything American League, so I don’t know.

          It couldn’t be anything weird like he signed a big contract and then started sucking, ’cause that *only* happens with the Cubs.

          • MichiganGoat

            Seattle has a slight history of FA busts the most notable would be Adrian Beltre, who after performing below expectations went to the Red Sox and was amazing. I do wonder if there is something about that ballpark that makes it tough for hitters. I’m not saying Figgins is the answer, but he has more upside than some of the other players and might be the best trade that would result in us having to pay or take on additional $$.

      • MichiganGoat

        Yes, we’d be trading for shit for shit in any of these trades but maybe just maybe we’d get a player who needs a change of scenery (this is where a teams scouts and evaluators are important). If he recovers to a .250 hitter and can play multiple positions he has more value than the powder keg that is El Toro Loco.

        • gblan014

          Agree with Goat’s arguments for Figgins. Only thing is though, wouldn’t he take precious playing time away from guys like DeWitt and Campana (and arguably not be as good as them)?

    • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

      I remember there was a bunch of hubbaloo a some time back about the Cubs picking him up as a free agent before he ultimately signed with Seattle. At this point, he’s probably a bench player, but a pretty versatile one — if he remembers how to hit the ball.

      • MichiganGoat

        Exactly, we will need versatile players that can play adequate defense if we plan on counting on Barney, Jackson, and Colvin next year.

        • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

          I’m counting on Tyler Colvin to be no more than a trivia item by mid-season next year.

          • MichiganGoat

            I was thinking of making a novelty set of playing cards of Cubs prospects and scrappy players we counted on for too long.

            • http://twitter.com/thomaswconroy TWC

              Theriot is a joker, right?

              • MichiganGoat

                Nah he’s a Jack cause he’s a jackass. Campy is my Joker cause every time I see him with that oversized gloves I laugh.

        • CubFan Paul

          Barney’s 2011 thru 106games: 291/.326/.362/.688 w/ 35rbi & 1HR ..no way Figgins is a viable trade for us, the Cubs arent that desparate

          even if Figgins miraculously rekindles 2010: .259/.340/.306/.646 with 1HR & 35rbi, Barney is still better

          this is my 1st time defending Barney lol@under .700OPS guys

          we stinks

  • willis

    I would be looking for an arm in return. Taking Z out of the rotation makes an already pencil thin rotation thinner. And with the results this year in the minors, there isn’t anyone ready to take his place. So, if there is a deal to be had, I’m hoping it’s an arm, preferably Burnett or Lowe, and that somehow we can get at least one solid year out of them.

    • EQ

      we need to look at our weaknesses and needs.. which is pitching and defense.. Z still has value.. no matter what the media or anyone else thinks, he’s a decent pitcher and is having a better year than any of the above players we’ve mentioned trading for, not a great year, but not as bad as those guys. His whole problem is attitude..

      I would push for whoever we got in a trade to be a pitcher or a solid defensive player.. at least give us a chance to see possible upgrade in one of our main weaknesses. The Braves for Lowe, Red Sox for Matsuzaka, or the Yanks for Burnett would make sense because one of them could be an average pitcher for us without the drama.

    • MichiganGoat

      The Braves would NEVER take Z, NEVER!

  • Deez

    Zito & money (for the buuyout) for Zambrano trade is the best option. San Fran washes their hands of their biggest financial mistake & we get a serviceable LHP.
    I’m pretty sure he has a no-trade clause too!

  • anthony

    I whole heartedly agree that if a trade of Zambrano is made that pitching has to come back in return. The major league pitching staff is already depleated as is, with no viable options available in the minors, save Casey Coleman at the back end. I’d be happy with Zito, Burnett, Lowe or Matsuzaka. Hell, I’d even take Kei Igawa at this point for Z. Also, why wouldn’t Zito be exstatic to waive his NTC to come to the Cubs? He’d have a chance to pitch every 5th day here, whereas that’s not really the case in SF.

    I wouldn’t think that trading for Figgins would be smart just because there’s a better option available on the roster in Blake DeWitt. Unless they don’t get an impact player to replace Ramirez at third. Then best case you’re hoping he (Figgins) platoons with DeWitt at 3rd until Vitters is ready, if he ever is.

    • EQ

      Zito would be a good trade.. at least have a starter to plug in there.. surely he’d be better than the majority of what we’ve had out of the 4th & 5th starters this year.

      • Toosh

        I agree with both of you. The Cubs would have to get pitching in return. Preferably, a pitcher whose contract would only be on the books as long as Z’s would have been.

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