With a new location; a new manager; and a new stadium; the Miami Marlins are quickly becoming the team to watch this off-season. While not confirmed, it is believed that the Marlins have offers on the table for starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson, and the latest reports from the Winter Meetings suggest that the Marlins have upped their offer to Albert Pujols to 10 years. This, of course, comes after the Marlins have already signed shortstop Jose Reyes and closer Heath Bell.
It seems likely that the Marlins will either land Buehrle or Wilson, however, the team still remains a long-shot to sign Pujols. On the off chance that the Marlins do not sign Buehrle or Wilson, the team will have to look at alternative options to improve their starting rotation. This would be where the Chicago Cubs come into play.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times tweeted that the Marlins have approached the Cubs to check on the asking price for starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano. It is important to note that the Marlins may view Zambrano as backup option rather than one of their primary targets. There were reports earlier in the off-season that the Marlins would have interest in Zambrano considering the close friendship between manager Ozzie Guillen and the Cubs’ veteran starting pitcher.
In recent weeks, there have been little rumors to suggest that the Cubs are actively looking to trade Zambrano. President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein already told Zambrano that the starting pitcher has an opportunity to earn his way back on the team. After all, trading Zambrano at this point would be a difficult task. Zambrano has negative trade value at this point in his career after he may have had one too many tantrums for another team to be interested in trading for the temperamental starting pitcher. After all, the Cubs should not trade Zambrano for the mere fact of removing a cancer from the clubhouse. At the risk of sounding like a Zambrano apologist, the starting pitcher did not burn all ties to the organization as the case was for Carlos Silva and Milton Bradley during their exits from the organization. Not to mention that the Cubs still have a need for starting pitcher. Even though Zambrano has been a shell of his former self, with a new regime and coaching staff, there still is the chance that the starting pitcher could regain his top form–or somewhere close to it–and be a valuable asset to the Cubs’ rotation.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that Zambrano is convinced that he will remain with the team entering the 2012 season after his meeting with Epstein. A friend of Zambrano’s told Sullivan that with the starting pitcher getting his wish in former general manager Jim Hendry and former pitching coach Mark Riggins no longer being with the organization, Zambrano is looking forward to proving himself to Epstein and Hoyer next season.
While a trade for Zambrano seems unlikely for the Marlins, the team could be interested another Cubs’ starting pitcher. If the Marlins fail to acquire Buehrle or Wilson, the team could pursue Chicago Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza. Playing the hypothetical game, lets say the Marlins sign Pujols and have an interest in trading for Garza, the Cubs would be in a position to ask for current Marlins’ first baseman Gaby Sanchez. The Cubs had interest in Sanchez last winter before signing then free agent Carlos Pena.