1/5 Cubs deal Big Z to Marlins

The Cubs knew they were committed to spending $18 million in 2012 on Carlos Zambrano one way or another, but Theo Epstein wasn’t convinced the right-hander could win back the trust of his teammates.

“The calculus for us was would we rather spend that $18 million on one year of Carlos and try to make it work with him here,” Epstein said. “Best case scenario is that if it did work, he’d be leaving as a free agent at the end of the year.

“Or, if we had to spend that money anyways as a sunk cost, would we rather spend it on a 25-year-old who we can put in our rotation and control for three seasons?” he said. “That made a lot more sense.”

On Thursday, the Cubs’ roller coaster ride with Zambrano came to an end when the team dealt the volatile right-hander to the Marlins for pitcher Chris Volstad. Zambrano, 30, waived his no-trade clause and also the $19.25 million option for 2013 to join good friend and Venezuelan countryman Ozzie Guillen, the new Marlins manager, who will try to keep the pitcher’s emotions in check.

Epstein was unable to find a trade partner until three days ago. Zambrano did not want to even discuss a trade during a face to face meeting with Epstein in November in Chicago. But Epstein, who took over as Cubs president of baseball operations in late October, discovered a recurring theme in conversations with players and front office executives regarding Zambrano. None of them trusted the mercurial pitcher to change his ways. Epstein had outlined steps Zambrano needed to take to earn his way back with the Cubs but said he was skeptical it could happen.

“Every player who I talked to articulated to me that Carlos had violated their trust,” Epstein said. “When you’re talking about physical altercations with teammates repeatedly, when you’re talking about physically walking out on the team, it’s very hard to have that player come back into the clubhouse and be trusted.

“I think to be a good teammate there has to be a certain degree of trust and accountability,” he said. “Do I believe in second chances? Yes. Do I believe in third chances? Yes, in come cases — even fourth chances. I think you have to be realistic about it and recognize that players don’t dictate decisions like this but you’re trying to establish a certain sense of unity in the clubhouse and a certain sense of purpose, you have to have accountability and trust between the players.”

The risk of having Zambrano become a distraction again was too high, and his departure ends a tumultuous 11-year career in Chicago.

Pitcher Kerry Wood did wish Zambrano well with a tweet on Thursday, saying: “Best of luck to Big Z in Miami. Played together for 9 seasons. Wish him all the best!”

Now, Big Z will get a fresh start in Miami.

“We’re glad for him that he has a chance for a new start and a place where he can build new relationships and establish a new reputation for himself,” Epstein said of Zambrano. “We think he has the chance to do that in Miami.”

– Carrie Muskat

12 Comments

Had to happen. Big Z….wish you the best. No place in Cub land for you.

What in Chris Volstad’s career would make Epstein think he is a major league rotation pitcher? Have we nobody in our minor league system who could put up numbers as dreadful as Volstad did for four years in Miami? Why not get prospects with some upside?

Kate, what don’t you get about Zambrano and his horrible contract being “untradable”. Volstad could SUCK, the point is Epstein is cleaning Hendry’s house and could have received a Snicker candy bar and the team would have been just as well served. Carlos Hendry Zambrano had to go and next up for Epstein is launching Alfonso Hendry Soriano. The only down side to this deal is the Marlins didn’t take Soriano too!! Zambrano may very well have a rebound year with a more talented club like the Marlins….doesn’t matter…Cubdom is moving on and Epstein is doing what needs to be done. Epstein is not done, and CHANCES are the young, first round pick Volstad isn’t either.

I wish him well in Miami, but I will not miss Zambrano. I was a big fan, but he seemed to really loose something after he got his big contract. Volstad’s stats from last year are similar to big Z’s so I don’t think it will get any worse, and at least he won’t be a distraction. And Epstein gets to prove that he will ship players out, who don’t try their best, even if he has to eat a bad contract. Seems to me that he is making the best of a bad situation. Now if he can do the same with Soriano that will help tremendously. I still like the idea of trading him straight up for Burnett from the Yankees. Even if Burnett fails, we get to put a player in left field who can catch the ball, so it will help our other pitchers.

I’m not seeing why Burnett would be the guy Jim, but hey, at this point if it’s Burnett or anybody (yes Kate, even another “dreadful” pitcher like Volstad) else it will be a wise move. We must admit, Epstein is in a nice situation because he has a free hand to get rid of bums brought in by Hendry so he really can’t do anything bad as it doesn’t take a genius to dump somebody else’s mistakes (Hendry’s) and eat somebody else’s money (Ricketts’). It’s Carte Blanche at least for the next two years for Epstein but he’s the guy to get it done instead of the planless Hendry. This is all good.

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Of the 15 million we had to pay to get rid of zambrano how much can they recover in penalties to him for not finishing the season last year?

It’s over and done with. “Recovering” money??? Come on, as if they could recover money…they would put it in the fans’ pocket? “We” paid 15 mil? Are you Andy Ricketts??
I don’t remember the hat being passed around to us fans.

They aren’t get anything back, in fact they’re paying out more than I expected. First of all, supposedly they’re paying Zambrano’s $18 million salary minus whatever they pay Volstad in arbitration, so essentially it’s an even swap player for player and they’re still paying the full $18 million, so they’re not saving any money. Also, not only are they not recovering money for him not finishing last year, but part of the trade included settling the grievance Zambrano filed against the Cubs. The Cubs didn’t pay Zambrano $3 million of his salary last year after his “retirement” and supposedly the settlement is to pay Zambrano $2.4 million of that, which means Zambrano was only penalized $600k for his actions last year.

Right Shea…a big “oops” on Hendry’s resume. I think we all get it, except for Andy?? There will not be any financial recovery, but a recovery from Hendry’s gaffs is well in progress.

Exactly, I’m definitely on the same page as I believe you are in that I essentially give Theo and Jed a free pass on anything and everything they do to rid the Cubs of players Hendry signed and to build back up the farm system that was so depleted during Hendry’s tenure. I know Cubs fans are patient, but we have gotten too used to being “patient” for the next quick fix and expect a quick rebuild rather than a slower, real rebuild that will make sure the Cubs have quality players in the future. I am happy to see the new regime doing what needs to be done for sustained success.

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