Sep 15, 2009, 1:38 PM EDT
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs “plan on shopping” Carlos Zambrano this offseason, but the odds of a trade seem fairly slim.
The most obvious hurdle is that Zambrano has a full no-trade clause as part of the five-year extension that he signed in August of 2007, but even assuming that he’s willing to accept a deal how many teams will be interested in paying him $18 million per season for 2010, 2011, and 2012?
Perhaps that price tag would have been palatable to some high-payroll teams a few years ago, when Zambrano was an ace and money was flowing more freely, but things have changed. Zambrano will throw under 200 innings for the second straight year after topping the 200-inning mark annually from 2003 to 2007, and while his stints on the disabled list this season have been for hamstring and back injuries there’s an awful lot of mileage on his 28-year-old right arm.
Plus, he’s simply no longer a No. 1 starter. During his first four full seasons in the Cubs’ rotation Zambrano went 59-32 with a 3.14 ERA, but over the past three seasons he has ERAs of 3.95, 3.91, and 3.77. His strikeout rate has declined, his walk rate hasn’t improved, and he’s no longer an extreme ground-ball pitcher. He’s just not an $18 million pitcher at this point, let alone an $18 million pitcher worth giving up legitimate prospects to acquire.
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