Marlins Throw Caution To Wind, Trade For Carlos Zambrano

The Chicago Cubs wanted to rid themselves of a headache. The Miami Marlins wanted to add another big-money starting pitcher. Carlos Zambrano? Carlos Zambrano.

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11 Total Updates since January 4, 2012
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Carlos Zambrano Trade To Marlins Now Official

Wednesday left us hanging, with Carlos Zambrano about to be traded from the Cubs to the Marlins, but with Carlos Zambrano not yet having been traded from the Cubs to the Marlins. There were still a few little things to tie up.

Those things have been tied up. Ken Rosenthal:

Zambrano deal official. He waived no-trade and $19.25M opt for '13 that would have kicked in if he finished in top 4 of Cy vote.

Carlos Zambrano is officially a member of the Miami Marlins, with the Marlins responsible for $3 million of his 2012 salary. Barring an extension, he is set to become a free agent after the year. Chris Volstad, meanwhile, is officially a member of the Chicago Cubs. And the Cubs will pay the other $15 million of Zambrano's 2012 salary.

The Marlins' starting rotation now shakes out as something like:

Josh Johnson
Mark Buehrle
Ricky Nolasco
Anibal Sanchez
Carlos Zambrano

There's some incredible talent here. Johnson has been a #1. Buehrle has been a #1. Nolasco has been a #1. Zambrano has been a #1. Sanchez has never been a #1, but he has at times pitched like one. Look at the names, and this is an intimidating staff.

On the other hand, Johnson is fragile, Buehrle doesn't miss bats, Nolasco's strikeouts are trending poorly, and Zambrano is Zambrano. So this is also a volatile staff. All pitching staffs are volatile, but this one looks especially so.

The 2012 Miami Marlins are looking like a grand experiment. If you're going to experiment, you might as well take a chance on Carlos Zambrano. If Zambrano succeeds in a new place under Ozzie Guillen, the Marlins will look like shrewd geniuses. If Zambrano barely out-pitches the departed Volstad, or doesn't out-pitch him at all, then they will look less like geniuses.

As for the Cubs? This is good for the Cubs.

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The Carlos Zambrano Career Timeline

No matter what you think of Carlos Zambrano and his recent trade to the Marlins, his career has been filled with colorful and memorable moments.

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TIM BROWN: Will Carlos Zambrano Find Happiness In Miami?

Up to now, much of the discussion of the trade of Carlos Zambrano to the Miami Marlins (reportedly complete pending physicals) has been about what effect it will have on the Chicago Cubs, from getting his antics out of the clubhouse to the effect replacing him with Chris Volstad will have on the Cubs’ rotation.

At Yahoo, Tim Brown says this deal could finally bring Big Z happiness:

He’s on a contender. He’s pitching for his pal and fellow Venezuelan, manager Ozzie Guillen. He’s in a ballpark surrounded by folks who aren’t so tired of his act they’d just as soon watch him drive away than witness another destructive meltdown, no matter his aptitude.

On the other hand, Zambrano pitched for several Cubs contenders and playoff teams, and melted down anyway, although the meltdowns got worse as the team did in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Perhaps being united on a team for the first time with Guillen, who is not only a fellow Venezuelan but one of Z’s best friends, might get him to produce $18 million (his 2012 salary) of value. The deal had to be made, because:

No matter how many sit-downs he had with Theo Epstein, no matter how eloquent the orations on fresh starts and new men, Zambrano had gone toxic in Chicago. There’s no hosing that off the Wrigleyville sidewalk.

Brown concludes by saying this is likely Z’s final, no-we-really-mean-it-this-time last chance:

So, I hope Carlos Zambrano sees this for what it is – not one more shot at the career that seemed ahead of him four years ago, but one more shot at being satisfied with the career he looks back on.
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Sir Christopher Of Volstad, Archduke Of xFIP

Might Chris Volstad, just traded to the Chicago Cubs for Carlos Zambrano and a boatload of cash, actually be better than Gio Gonzalez? Don't look so shocked!

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Carlos Zambrano Trade Between Marlins, Cubs Effectively Complete

This has all come together in a hurry. Wednesday afternoon, Carlos Zambrano was not a topic. Wednesday evening, Carlos Zambrano was reportedly close to being traded to the Miami Marlins. And now later Wednesday evening, Carlos Zambrano has all but been traded to the Miami Marlins. Bruce Levine:

Cubs and marlins agree on trade that sends p Carlos Zambrano in exchange for Chris volstad .cubs pay 15 of 18 million .

There are the details. In 2012, the Marlins will replace Volstad with Zambrano for $3 million minus Volstad's salary. The Cubs, meanwhile, will replace Zambrano with Volstad for $15 million plus Volstad's salary. So the Cubs aren't really getting any significant salary relief, here. But they are getting Zambrano relief, plus control of Volstad for three years.

The trade isn't official yet, as Ken Rosenthal reports that there are still medical exams to complete, and commissioner approval to obtain. But it looks like it's just a matter of time. Unless Zambrano's body is really messed up or Volstad has legs for arms and arms for legs, this is going to go through.

As I've mentioned, I like this for the Cubs, because I'm somewhat fond of Volstad, and don't think he's much worse than Zambrano. The Marlins are hoping that Zambrano finds his happy place under Ozzie Guillen and pitches closer to his potential. It's not a completely ridiculous risk, but it's a risk, and, well, congratulations to the Marlins on becoming the most interesting organization in baseball. Jeff Conine might've been Mr. Marlin before, but the Marlins as represented by Conine have little in common with the Marlins of today.

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Cubs Expected To Cover Most Of Carlos Zambrano's Salary

Word is that Carlos Zambrano is on his way to join the Miami Marlins. He's not quite on his way yet, but he will be soon, at least according to reports. Both Ken Rosenthal and Jon Heyman have reported that the Marlins and Cubs are close to a trade.

One detail that's come out is that the Marlins are expected to give up Chris Volstad. Another detail comes from Heyman:

cubs will obvs pay the bulk of zambrano's $18M salary in the zambrano-volstad trade. #marlins

In this context, "obvs" = "obviously", and I don't know which is sadder: that a professional journalist had to write that, or that all of us readers understand that. The year 2012 is off to a discouraging start.

So for the 2012 season, the Marlins will pay a little for the difference between Zambrano and Volstad. In 2013 and 2014, they will be without Volstad. They could try to sign Zambrano to an extension after the year, but that's probably not one of those things you should hurry into.

As currently understood, I still like this for the Cubs. They'll shed a little salary, and they'll be rid of Zambrano's distractions. They'll add a decent pitcher under control for three years. I like this less for the Marlins, given that I don't think Zambrano is that much better than Volstad at all. But the Marlins are banking on upside, and maybe Zambrano will flourish in a new environment under Ozzie Guillen. I don't know. Carlos Zambrano is predictably unpredictable, and now I hate myself for writing that. What a pointless thing to write.

Zambrano. Marlins. Apparently soon. Zambrano may not offer much more talent than Volstad, but he'd sure as hell make things more interesting.

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Carlos Zambrano Trade Reportedly Includes Chris Volstad

Later on Wednesday, word emerged that the Miami Marlins were close to swinging a trade for Carlos Zambrano. Nothing was official, but a deal was close, and Jon Heyman has provided confirmation. According to Heyman, a trade could be announced on Thursday.

For further details, we turn to Enrique Rojas. Enrique Rojas?

Los Miami Marlins y los Chicago Cubs están envueltos en negociaciones para intercambiar al lanzador venezolano Carlos Zambrano por el derecho norteamericano Chris Volstad, dijo una fuente ligada a las negociaciones.

In case you can't read Spanish, here's what that basically says: the Marlins and the Cubs are talking about exchanging Zambrano for Chris Volstad. This is the first we've heard of the return.

There's no word on any financial details, if there are any financial details. The Marlins might be volunteering to pick up Zambrano's entire $18 million 2012 salary. They also might not. Volstad is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and has three more years of team control.

I have to say, just looking at it as Zambrano-for-Volstad, I like this a lot for the Cubs. Not only do they shed salary. Not only do they shed a headache. They barely shed any talent, if they shed talent at all. Over the last three years, Volstad's strikeout-to-walk ratio has been slightly higher than Zambrano's, and the ERA gap overstates the difference in ability. Even if Volstad is a little worse than Zambrano, he's more reliable, and he's under control for a while. He'd be a good get.

But we'll see, because until matters are official, we can't pretend to know all the details. Expect further word soon.

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Marlins Close To Carlos Zambrano Trade, According To Report

Ken Rosenthal says that the Miami Marlins are close to acquiring starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano from the Chicago Cubs.

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Rumor: Carlos Zambrano To Marlins?

The Chicago Cubs would love to be out from under the burden of Carlos Zambrano's $18 million contract for 2012. They might have a taker.

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Could Carlos Zambrano Follow Ozzie Guillen To South Beach?

Carlos Zambrano's antics got him suspended and sent home by the Cubs in August. He and Ozzie Guillen are close friends. Could Ozzie's new managing position mean a new team for Big Z?

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