Talk About Cubs Trading Zambrano is Pointless

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In a pennant race game (just not involving him) Carlos Zambrano had another dominating performance last night. Big Z threw 7 strong shutout innings putting a dent in the San Diego Padres remarkable chances of trying to make the playoffs with the second lowest payroll in all of baseball.

If you think like Kent Sterling, this is how you feel about Zambrano,

"Since returning from team-mandated anger management therapy, Zambrano has posted a 7-0 record in ten starts.  Since August 14, his ERA is 1.07.  That is the kind of ace stuff that prompted Hendry to make Zambrano one of the world's wealthiest Venezuelans, and next year's contract is again in the $19-million range."

"Zambrano is never, ever going to have a run of dominating starts like this again in his career.  His value will never be higher, and this offseason is the time to sell."

In August of 2007 Zambrano signed a $91.5 million contract extension including a $5 million signing bonus and vesting option for a sixth year. In order for the option year to vest, Zambrano has to finish in first or second place in the Cy Young voting in the fourth year of the contract (2011) or finish 1-2-3-4 in the Cy Young voting in the fifth year of the contract. If either situation happens, the option kicks in and Zambrano then has the choice as to whether he wants to accept or reject the sixth year. There also is a stipulation that he has to be healthy after the fifth year.

At the time, the contract made the animated right-handed the pitcher with the highest average salary in a multi-year contract in Major League history surpassing the Barry Zito's seven-year, $126 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, an average annual value of $18 million (no, you read that correctly.) Zambrano's deal had an average annual value of $18.3 million.

Zambrano has a lot of money coming to him next year; money that teams are paying pitchers in this environment. I think the prevailing thought is that the Cubs would definitely trade him if they could get something worthwhile in return and also find a team to pay the contract. At that price however, that's not likely to happen.

The best known public offer for Zambrano before the trade deadline was from the Mets offering Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo, basically a swap of problem children. The Cubs weren't about to do that and Zambrano certainly pitched well for them down the stretch, it just didn't matter as they were never in a position to make the playoffs.

The Cubs committed a king's ransom to Zambrano and to date it's unquestionably been a bad investment to date. Strangely enough though, Zambrano's conduct will have him only pitching about 130 innings this year, and that may help him going forward. It's certainly helping him now as he's fresh and dominating hitters.

Zambrano has a career 3.50 ERA with a pretty high WHIP of 1.310. As much as one might think that Zambrano has had a career altering wake-up call and what we are currently seeing before our eyes is what we will see going forward, I don't see anyone paying Zambrano's contract and also giving up prospects. Frankly, I don't see anyone that would be willing to pay $19 million for next year even if they just had to assume the salary and give up nothing.

If the Ricketts Family is willing to eat a substantial portion of his salary (at least half) the Cubs might be able to move him but the chances of that happening are slim to none. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry signed that contract and he and the Cubs are now stuck with it.

With the Cubs luck, Zambrano will end up having a great year on an awful team next year and his vesting option will kick in leaving the Cubs on the monetary hook for 2012 too....... - Keith A. Baker

Keith is a sports agent in Stamford, Connecticut. His goal is to offer a unique insight to the world of sports. Comments in his columns are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect the views and opinions of his firm or his clients.


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