Rumors: Yankees Not Interested in Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano

There seems to be this idea going around that the Yankees are interested in the Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, but according to both Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated and Buster Olney of ESPN it is not true.

That’s not to say that if the Yankees get desperate they couldn’t change their minds and turn their attention to him, but as of right now they have walked right past that sign in the window.

It makes sense that the Yankees are ignoring Zambrano for now. Sure the Cubs would trade him, but they would probably be willing to listen to an offer any day of the week that the Yankees, or anybody else for that matter, would call. The reason is, nobody wants him, probably not even the Cubs. He’s still an above average pitcher, but he’s extremely overpaid and crazy.

Sure from 2003 until 2006 Zambrano was one of the better young pitchers in baseball. He had a run where he went 59-32 with a 3.14 ERA, a 142 ERA+, a 8.0 K/9 rate and a 3.9 BB/9 rate. But things have changed.

In 2007, a year he went 18-13 no less, Zambrano took a turn for the worse. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he was being paid an eight-digit figure for the first time ($12.4 million), but whatever it is his numbers started declining.

He has always maintained a winning record, but his ERA went up from an impressive 3.14 to a wonder if he could make it in the AL 3.78. His K/9 rate dropped to 7.4 and his walk rate went up as well to a BB/9 of 4.1. Nothing drastic, but a player who dominated so much from age 22-25 should be getting even better from age 26-29.

He’ll be 30 by June of next year and at this point there isn’t much hope that his numbers will go back to where they were when he was a 22-year-old. For one thing his velocity has taken a big dip. Once sitting 95-96 mph Zambrano was lucky to hit 90 at some points last season and routinely sits at 87-91 nowadays.

He’s also paid a ton of money. Zambrano is in the fourth year of a $91.5 million contract. He currently has just two years and $35.875 million left on his deal. That makes him the fifth highest paid pitcher behind Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, CC Sabathia, and Johan Santana.

The Cubs and the Yankees both know all of this information. Which is why the Cubs would be willing to trade him at any time and why, for now, the Yankees have resisted the temptation. Hopefully they will continue to risk that temptation for anything less than a one-for-one deal for A.J. Burnett. Even that deal would be a lateral move for the Yankees that would not be improving the team much at all while adding a volatile figure into the club house.

Let’s hear from you. Are the Yankees smart for staying away from Zambrano? Or should they be buying while his value is low?

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10 Responses to Rumors: Yankees Not Interested in Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano

  1. smurfy says:

    By no means would I trade AJ for him. I read AJ was going through a nasty divorce last year, and it probably explains a loss of concentration. His stuff is still there.

  2. InvictusPK says:

    I simply do not agree with this assessment. What I think we can all agree on is that the Yanks are definitely searching hard for help in their rotation. But the question is obvious…where is it going to come from? The FA market is obviously no longer an option, and if you're they're looking for a front end (#1-2) caliber starter via trade, there simply are no true "aces" (Felix, Josh Johnson, Johan, etc) available. Even if a high 2nd tier "ace" was available (ie Garza (who the rays would NEVER trade w/in the division) or Buerhle), it would still most likely cost the yanks a package of prospects that would most likely have to include montero, which, in my opinion, would be a big mistake. OK, how about a high risk/high reward type like Webb? Well, they've already signed Prior to a minor league deal (who would obviously fall in that category) & from everything I've read, they just simply are not interested in Webb & his damaged right arm. So again, if the Yanks are looking to truly add a near front of the rotation guy after losing out on Lee (which, in my opinion, Yankees fans won' regret…in the long run…that it happened) the question must be asked again, where is it going to come from? My opinion, two words…Carlos Zambrano. Trust me, I know every objection that has & will be made against him. I know about his decline since the '07 season, I know about his extreme emotional instability & Blow-Ups, I know about his comments that he isn't interested in playing anymore after this current contract expires. I know All of That…I've been following him since he was in Des Moines playing for the AAA Cubs. But I also know he's an Absolute gamer, and I know that when his mind is right & he's on, his stuff is REALLY good…& I mean #1-2 Really good. Argue the point if you want, but look at his numbers to end last season after returning from his "leave of absence" from team. In his final 11 starts, he finished the season with an 8-0 record & a 1.44 ERA. Show me ONE other pitcher in all of baseball who did that? I'm not naive to the potential "baggage" that comes with Big Z, but he still absolutely has nasty Ace potential. Not to mention that the Cubs would undoubtedly pick up a portion of his salary AND the Yanks wouldn't have to surrender Montero to get that #1-2 starter that every fan has been desperate for since Lee said "Thanks, but No Thanks." Oh yeah, one more little silver lining "side note"…it also just so happens that the ONLY pitching coach that he has EVER known, just so coincidentally will happen to be sitting in the Yankees dugout for the entire season. Just something for you guys to chew on.

    • By leave of absence you mean team mandated suspension right? I don't know, I think my argument about 4 or 5 realistic red flags trumps an 11 game span.

      • InvictusPK says:

        Ok Rob, I hear you & your 4-5 red flags, but I think those 11 games, which was a 2 & a half month span, can't simply be brushed aside. It absolutely proves that the man can not only still pitch, but can pitch at an elite level. And with the cubs most likely willing to assume a certain amount of salary relief in order to go forward with this, you're telling me that you don't think Zambrano is worth, say $12M/yr for 2 yrs? That's crazy to me. In my opinion, it's a calculated risk that I would be willing to take, especially considering the money they have available after not signing Lee. I don't disagree with the "flags", Rob, but I'm just saying that I not only think that it's a viable option, I think it's a risk that could be exactly what the Yankees need to form a rotation that gives them the BEST shot of competing for another world series. If not this, Rob, I'd LOVE to hear your opinion of a better option…Nova, Mitre?

        • I don't know. 11 games doesn't trump the last three years. Also, the Yankees have worked hard to cultivate a good clubhouse atmosphere recently and trading for Zambrano would absolutely set that back. He hasn't had one or two outbursts, but more like a half dozen to a dozen times.

          Think about how it could effect other players. For instance, CC Sabathia can opt out after 2011. He says he's not going to because he loves it here. What if he has some asshole running around freaking out every other month or so. Maybe he won't like it so much then.

          He just doesn't seem worth the risk.

          • InvictusPK says:

            Fair enough…definitely a worthy assessment. I just see the "potential" that would come with it working out. But we are all entitled to our opinions, and I definitely value & respect yours. I am curious what your opinion is to the direction they should go with the situation regarding their rotation. If you were to play GM for a week & let Cash take an early Christmas break, what would you do? I've always enjoyed your insight & foreword thinking…where would YOU look for a Solution to this situation?

          • InvictusPK says:

            At least give other "options" if you're going to say you don't like someone else's. Or is it your opinion that they should just stand pat & go into the season with what they currently have?

  3. @InvictusPK, Check out Brian Burkhart's latest article (http://bronxbaseballdaily.com/?p=11141) I couldn't have put it much better than this. They should just sit back and make some roster tweaks and if a good trade for a decent pitcher presents itself then you can jump on it. Otherwise. Wait and go into the season with a potential 95 win team.