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?