Carlos Zambrano Placed On Waivers


File this under the the expected category. On Friday, the Chicago Cubs placed starting pitcher Carlos Zambrano on waivers. Since the move happened on Friday, Zambrano is still going through the waiver process. Teams have two business days to place a claim on a player placed on waivers, and the period to place a claim on Zambrano begins today. The process goes through the American League first with the teams with the worst record getting priority. If Zambrano goes unclaimed by an American League team, the same process would occur for the National League teams.

The Cubs tried feverishly to trade Zambrano before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but as we know, they were unable to find a taker. Which is still a surprise to me. The New York Yankees had their sights set on Wandy Rodriguez of the Houston Astros, but the sides were unable to work out a deal because the Yankees were unwilling to take on majority of the approximate $39 million left on Rodriguez’s contract. Granted Rodriguez is having a better season in comparison to Zambrano, the fact remains that Zambrano is two years younger and the Cubs were willing to absorb at least 90% of the remaining salary on Zambrano’s contract. But for whatever reason the Yankees were not willing to take the risk on Zambrano.

Picture the waiver-wire process like a game of battleship or connect four. In most cases, a team puts a claim on a player in order to block him from another contending team. The common example would be in 2009 when the Chicago White Sox claimed Alex Rios on waivers in order to block him from being claimed by the Detroit Tigers. But instead of pulling Rios off waivers, the Toronto Blue Jays opted to rid themselves of that enormous contract and put the burden on the White Sox. I do not see that scenario playing out with Zambrano. As of today, the Boston Red Sox are one game ahead of the Yankees. Meaning the Yankees would have the chance to put a claim on Zambrano before the Red Sox. Thus, the Red Sox are not going to have the opportunity to block the Yankees from claiming Zambrano. Though, if the Red Sox are not content with Erik Bedard they may want to put a claim on Zambrano, but the Yankees would have the opportunity to block such a move by claiming the Cubs’ starting pitcher before the Red Sox do. If that happens, the Cubs should jump on the chance to send Zambrano and his bloated contract to New York.

Now before your head spins even more, I’m just going to come out and say that the likely scenario is that Zambrano will go unclaimed on waivers. Meaning come Wednesday morning, the Cubs will be able to shop Zambrano to any team that is interested. Of course, that does not hide the fact that the Cubs had the same opportunity last month, but found no takers. However, if a contending team loses one of their top starting pitchers at some point this month, then that may create some type of market for Zambrano. Nonetheless, it is more likely that Zambrano will be traded during the winter instead of during the final months of the 2011 season.

The Cubs have already placed several players on waivers, though, Zambrano’s name was the first to be publicized.