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Earlier today, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations discussed, among other things, the circumstances of Carlos Zambrano’s return to the Cubs. It was a best behavior kind of thing.

But it might not matter.

According to Ken Rosenthal (and a rumor out of Venezuela we discussed on Twitter earlier today), the Cubs and Marlins are “close” to consummating a trade that would send Big Z to Miami where he could pitch for his good friend, Ozzie Guillen.

Zambrano, 30, is owed $18 million in 2012 (the final year of his contract, setting aside a virtually unobtainable 2013 vesting option). If the Cubs are hoping to pick up anything of value at all in the deal, they’ll have to kick in substantial cash. Even then, I’d keep expectations low – the market for Zambrano, to the best of our collective knowledge, consisted of Miami, and … Miami. Zambrano has a no-trade clause, so the Cubs were probably very limited in their options. With that kind of leverage, it’s not likely Miami will give up much of note.

Apparently the rumor had been floating around Venezuela for a little while, but the only reporter to cover it couldn’t get confirmation from the Marlins on a possible deal. So, it kind of died on the vine.

But, with Rosenthal reporting it, I’d imagine this has legs. I’ll update when more is available.

UPDATE: I checked around with a couple sources, and while the final, final details of the trade are not, well, finalized, the rumor is legit. The two sides are close.

UPDATE II: It just occurred to me – those vague rumors that Zambrano was sitting out Venezuelan Winter League starts because of a leg injury? Any chance that was a cover story for an impending trade, and a new team that didn’t want him pitching any  more this year?

UPDATE III: Dave Kaplan reports that his sources are also telling him that a deal is in the works.

UPDATE IV: Enrique Rojas says (as speculated in the comments) that the return player being discussed is pitcher Chris Volstad. A Zambrano-for-Volstad swap was discussed back in December.

UPDATE V: Joe Cappozi (a Miami writer) says there’s a chance the Cubs could land Matt Dominguez in the deal, which would be insane. I think he’s just speculating, rather than saying what he’s heard from a source.

UPDATE VI: Jon Heyman says he also hears Volstad is headed to the Cubs. (Volstad, by the way, has been a mediocre back-end pitcher for three straight years now, and is in his first year of arbitration.) Note that getting Volstad wouldn’t help the Cubs’ 40-man roster bloat.

UPDATE VII: Joe Cowley says it’s a “wrap,” but I guess we’ll have to wait a bit longer for the final details.

UPDATE VIII: Bruce Levine says it’s a Z for Volstad swap with the Marlins taking on just $3 million of Z’s salary. I know the Cubs’ options were limited, but oof. I’ll still take it, but harder to call it a “win.” A Marlins writer says the Cubs are eating ALL of Z’s salary, but pretty much everyone else (Kaplan, Rosenthal) say Cubs are eating $15 million.

FINAL UPDATE (probably): I’ll have more on the trade tomorrow, but my instant reaction is that, while I would have liked to have seen more salary relief, the Cubs had no leverage. Zambrano has a serious image problem. The Cubs are known to want to move him. Zambrano also has a no-trade clause. With those confluent factors, the Cubs were never going to get much for Z, assuming they felt they had to move him (and, clearly, they did). So they got a little salary relief, and a cost-controlled, high upside, low success, 25-year-old pitcher. I’m not jumping up and down or saying things like “I can’t believe they got this much” (which was my reaction to the Marshall trade), but I’m fine with it. Perhaps after more analysis, I’ll break more firmly in one direction or the other.

  • njriv

    Wouldn’t mind Volstad, he’s only 25 and he could easily match the recent performance of Z. He has pretty good upside.

  • Mike S

    Zambrano for Volstad and Dominguez? Theo Epstein is good but he’s not a miracle worker, dang!

  • Cubs82

    According to Joe Capozzi, possible names for Zambrano include Chris Volstad & 3B prospect Matt Dominguez

    • Fishin Phil

      If Theo pulls this off, I’ll name Brett’s next child after him.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Hahaha.

  • Bacon

    If the Cubs eat over half of the $18m they owe Z, and Z gets to go to a place he wants and where he’s wanted. I c leverage for Theo. otherwise bench his ass pay him $18m to sit and get fat so he’s useless like he is now. I’ll be happy with a pack of gum but the Cubs should get a decent player.

  • Brian

    I had a headache for awhile, but I think its about to be relieved.

  • scorecardpaul

    nice to actually have a rumor to talk about again

     

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Well if the rumored return for Zambrano is Dominguez and Volstad, I wonder if the Cubs will be sending anyone to the Marlins with Zambrano?

  • Robbo

    If Cubs get Matt Dominguez in exchange for eating big Z’s salary that would be an absolute steal. I’m skeptical but hopeful. Zambo for Volstad sounds a lot more likely.

    Matt Dominguez Top 50 Prospect Profile: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/minorleagues/prospects/y2009/profile.jsp?t=p_top&pid=518625

     

    • rcleven

      Hope your right. This kid would be a steal.

  • Mike S

    Jon Heyman tweeted that Zambrano for Volstad…

  • Toosh

    If the Cubs get anything in return for Zambrano, it’s a good deal.

  • deej
  • Mike S

    Deal is done. Cubs send Zambrano and $18 million to the Marlins for Chris Volstad.

    • tjtrigo

      That seems an awful lot for Chris Volstad, knowing full well that this was a complete dump by the Cubs.  This shows me that the market for Z, beyond Miami, was nonexistent.

      • BetterNews

        It was nonexistent.

  • ty

    remember volstad 6 game suspension for throwing behind a Washinton National hitter in 2010..

    • Joe

      Aw, dang. Serious?

    • ferrets_bueller

      …which pretty much makes up why I like the guy.
      Nyjer Morgan was a douche, and had it coming.

      He’s also a guy who I’m not entirely sure why he hasn’t panned out better. he’s still young, though.

      • goatbusters

        Is that the game where Nyjer charged the mound and was close lined by their 1B?

        • ferrets_bueller

          Yep! Good times, good times.

          • goatbusters

            Ha, that reminded me of when Randy “Macho man” Savage would take on the “no name” wrestlers. I thought Nyjer’s head was going to come off. To make it worse, he thought the crowd was cheering for him. Bahahaha!

  • PeteG

    Thats it? We trade a terrible pitcher for another terrible pitcher and we eat all that salary? I want Matt Dominguez!

  • goatbusters

    yea, but he’s 5 years younger and doesn’t walk out on his team because he’s had a bad day!

  • PeteG

    With that out of the way it’s time to get back to more Matt Garza rumors….

  • Bill

    Unbelievable!!

  • TWC

    So putting on my “always look on the bright side” glasses, I see the following (from B-R) on Volstad:

    Similar Pitchers through 24
    Jeff Weaver (986)
    Ben Sheets (981)
    Scott Olsen (977)
    Melido Perez (974)
    Frank Viola (969)
    Johnny Cueto (968)
    Don Cardwell (966)
    Kyle Lohse (964)
    Tom Glavine (964)
    Ryan Dempster (961)

    If Volstad can turn it around and approach some of those pitchers’ numbers, I’d be tickled.  He won’t, of course, but optimism reigns supreme on the north side.

    • Joe

      Holy shoot! Nice list!

    • ferrets_bueller

      Funny, I was just thinking of trying to compare him to some players. The first player (erroneously?) who popped into my head, simply because they’re both sinker type guys who struggled early, was webb. However…upon further review, I seem to remember Webb being much worse early in his career than he actually was, and his struggles dont seem to be a legit comparison…possibly.
      Webb struggled because his defense was bad, which led him to try to pitch away from contatct, which negated his strength as a sinkerballer. He had way too many walks.
      Now, Volstad doesn’t have the walks- but it might just be the same problem manifesting in a different symptom. If he’s falling behind early in counts, like my research shows (albeit, with anecdotal results), then serving up fastballs (as these anecdotes claim)- possibly as a result of lack of confidence in being able to successfully pitch to ground ball contact- then this could be corrected like it was with Webb.

      I’m not sure if i just said anything. or anything relevant, lol.

      • King Jeff

        You’re actually pretty dead on. I’ve seen a few of Volstad’s games in person, and if he is throwing his sinker for strikes, it’s a short day, lots of grounders and quick swings. If he falls behind, he struggles all day. I think his game is going to fit well in Wrigley as the days get hotter. He’s usually inconsistent, but he had a really good run at the end of last season, otherwise he would have been non-tendered. This was pretty much take it or leave for the Cubs, Zambrano has no trade rights, so it was Florida or nothing. They saved a couple of million and got a young, cost controlled pitcher who projects better than Zambrano does over the next couple of years. I think this is a win for the Cubs, even if Zambrano turns it around next year.

      • ThereWillBeCubs

        Sounds like Jason Marquis, round 2

  • Toosh

    Per the Commissioner’s approval because of the money, and assuming everybody’s healthy, it’s a done deal. Good job, HoyEpstein!

  • R.I.P. SANTO

    Z’ya later

  • tjtrigo

    What do people think:  are Wood and Volstad in the starting rotation?

    • Toosh

      Garza, Dempster, Wells, Wood and Volstad. Don’t be surprised if there are additions before Opening Day.

  • CubFanBob

    Volstad is a big boy who is a ground ball pitcher, doesn’t walk a lot but a lot of balls are in play without a lot of k’s etc. He may grow in Wrigley / new scene. Worse case he is a number 5 pitcher who eats up 200 innings plus.

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    This is just stupid. This means 2 straight dumb moves by Epstein. First signing Johnson, tying up a roster spot. Now he trades Zambrano and pays all that money for a nobody like Volstad. I’m starting to lose faith in the FO. STUPID MOVE. THIS PISSES ME OFF.

    • Toosh

      Hopefully Caden is smarter than his father.

      • Rick Vaughn

        HAHAHA!!!

      • ferrets_bueller

        I’m still trying to decide if I should laugh, or say ‘not cool’, bahaha.

    • Joe

      Wow.

    • Ramin

      Wow ur an idiot nuff said

      • TWC

        He’s not an idiot, dude, he just disagrees with you.  Be cool.

        While I think the (essential) release of Zambrano is probably a net 0 move, there is the possibility (however slight) that Volstad does *something* to distinguish himself in a positive way.  And I’m inclined to agree that the re-sign of Reed does tie up the 40-man, and unless some significant moves are on the way in the OF, I do fail to see how it helps us much.

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      Trade Zambrano, fine. Don’t trade him, pay 15 mil and only get Volstad back. I will bet Zambrano wins Atleast 16 games next year with a mid 3.50 ERA or lower. If you are paying that much, might as well kept. Just saying.

  • Spriggs

    Soriano is next!

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      That would be even more stupid then trading Z.

  • North Side Irish

    I know Phil Rogers isn’t the most popular guy on this site, but if this is true, I’m confused…

    #MLB source says Cubs and Marlins did discuss Matt Dominguez but Epstein’s priority is on rotation building, esp w/Ian Stewart at 3B.

    Seems like Dominguez is at least a better asset than Volstad.

  • cubsin

    The next item up for bids is Alphonso Soriano.

  • Puma0821

    With the emphasis on defense, could you see the Cubs using guy like Volstad (and if still here, Dempster, Wells, Garza) as trade bait for the deadline? If the D can inflate his #s a bit, could we get better value in the long run?

  • Ramin

    I think soriano is next to go, if theo ate that much money he will for sure eat sorianos contract

    • ferrets_bueller

      I dunno…thats a significantly larger chunk of change.

  • Ashley

    Really like this deal. I think Z had to go after what happened last season in Atlanta, also think Volstad is a nice young arm to add to the back end of the rotation. Theo has made me very happy with the deals he made, although I hate that we are quote rebuilding. I do like that Theo is doing it the right way. Now if we could just get rid of Sorinao!

    • King Jeff

      I think Volstad can be a good addition too. He had some really dominating stretches last season, including a sub 3 era for the last two months of the season where all of his starts were quality starts, he also had a pretty high BABIP the last two years, which usually levels out at some point. He has some issues, but he’s just reaching arbitration, so he’s under team control for a few more years at least. He is definitely a bounce back candidate, so this could be a win/win, because I think Zambrano is going to fit in with the Marlins and the community down here.

  • Spriggs

    It sounds like the Marlins might have been open to including Dominguez — maybe even pushing it. He is probably falling out of favor – and not just with the Marlins. His bat is very suspect. I’m not sure how big of an asset he really is anymore.

    • King Jeff

      They just re-signed Greg Dobbs to a two year contract, so the Marlins aren’t all that sold on Dominguez themselves.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Yeah I’m guessing he isn’t worth the roster spot for the Cubs.

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