It is starting to seem that a breakup between the Chicago Cubs and starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano is inevitable. Much has been made of Zambrano’s rant towards his team on Sunday, in particular taking a shot at teammate Carlos Marmol. Though, that does not appear to be an issue. Marmol and Zambrano talked today with Marmol saying that there is no issue between the two. But, the writing is on the wall. Zambrano clearly is seeking a trade, while he will never admit that desire in public, he apparently is making it known that he would waive his no trade clause for just about any team.
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that it is time for Zambrano to move on from the Cubs. Levine opens the article by saying that the best solution for both the Cubs and Zambrano is a quick trade. One source told Levine that Zambrano would accept a trade to any team. Though, the usual players in the Red Sox and Yankees figure to be among the front-runners in a potential Zambrano sweepstakes. But all indications are that the Yankees would be willing to make a trade for Zambrano in order to beat the Red Sox in the American League east race. The two players that Levine throws out as a potential package for Zambrano are outfielder Brett Gardner and pitcher Joba Chamberlain.
The Cubs have always had an interest in Gardner. Dating back to 2009 when they were searching for a right fielder before they signed Milton Bradley. Gardner, 27, is hitting .258/.333/.387/.720 with 3 triples and 10 stolen bases as the starting left fielder for the Yankees. The Cubs would have a use for Gardner as their leadoff man. The Cubs have lacked a true leadoff hitter since the days of Juan Pierre, and Gardner would instantly be the best leadoff candidate on the Cubs if he was traded to Chicago. Though, there may not be an opening in the outfield for Gardner. Between Alfonso Soriano in left field; the eventual arrival of Brett Jackson; and a handful of other outfield prospects in the farm system, Gardner would not seem to be a long term fit for the Cubs. Then again, if Gardner is capable of hitting around .280 like he did in 2010, the Cubs may find room for him.
Joba Chamberlain would likely be the star of the package for the Cubs. At age 25, Chamberlain still has the potential to be a reliever or starting pitcher. Though, early indications have been that he adds more value to a team as a reliever instead of a starting pitcher. Out of the Yankees bullpen this season, Chamberlain has posted a 2.83 ERA with a WHIP of 1.05 in 28.2 innings of work. It is hard to determine what role Chamberlain would serve on the Cubs. If he was traded to the Cubs, he would probably finish out the season in the bullpen. But I would anticipate the Cubs would move him to the rotation after the season. Though, Chamberlain’s role would likely be the opposite of what the Cubs decide to do with Andrew Cashner.
The Yankees would not be overly concerned with the approximate $30MM that is left on Zambrano’s contract. For that reason, that makes the Yankees the logical choice for a landing spot for Zambrano. A package of Chamberlain and Gardner would certainly get my approval assuming there is another minor leaguer thrown into the deal. The only question left to be answered, is how seriously–if anything–are the Cubs thinking about trading Zambrano?