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Hot Stove: Carlos Zambrano Traded to Miami
Nate Springfield | Thursday January 5th, 2012
Carlos Zambrano takes his circus to south Florida. (Icon SMI)
Carlos Zambrano takes his circus to south Florida. (Icon SMI)

The Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs agreed to a swap of starting pitchers on Wednesday evening, as Miami adds Carlos Zambrano to their starting rotation, in exchange the Cubs receive Chris Volstad.  Chicago will also be sending $15.5 million dollars to cover a majority of the remaining $18 million on Zambrano's contract.

As of this time, the trade is pending approval from the commissioner's office (because of the exchange of money) and player physicals.

Carlos Zambrano's antics and poor performance the past few seasons with the Cubs have made many forget how good of a pitcher he was early in his career.  In his his first four seasons (2003-2006) as a full-time starter with Chicago he was very good, carrying a 3.14 ERA, striking out 768 batters over 861 innings pitched (good for an 8.03 K/9) and winning 59 games.  But that performance may not be able to be resurrected, because since then (2007-2011) his ERA has ballooned to 3.96, his strikeout rate has dropped to 5.72 K/9, while winning 61 games. 

Zambrano, 30, will be joining fellow Venezuelan, manager Ozzie Guillen, in Miami - a relationship the Marlins hope to right Zambrano's frame of mind when pitching.  A major risk the Marlins get with Big Z is the possibility of similar incidents that have caused him to miss time during the past two seasons.  He was placed in mandatory anger management treatment in 2010 and in 2011 he walked out on the team, during a game, following a poor outing in Atlanta.  This 2011 incident landed him on the disqualified list after serving a 30 day team suspension.

In return, the Chicago Cubs are receiving Chris Volstad.  The former 2005 first round draft pick of the Marlins is a ground ball pitcher that carries a career 4.59 ERA with a 5.8 K/9.  Since having a tremendous rookie season in 2008, where he posted a 2.88 ERA in 84 1/3 innings, he has been a little worse than a league average pitcher.  His 6-foot 8-inch frame has caused issues with his delivery and being able to repeat it, which has kept him from being consistently effective.  Still, at only 25 years-old, there is a possibility of upside the Cubs hope to find in their new back of the rotation arm.  The reason Chicago was willing to send as much money to the Marlins as they did to cover the remainder of Zambrano's contract is because Volstad will be under team control for the next three seasons, something that is valuable to the goal of new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein.

This trade moves both teams further in the direction they wanted to go this offseason.  The Marlins are getting a known name that will put people in the seats of their new stadium.  The Cubs are getting three years of team control for a younger pitcher in return for a player that would not have been with the team after 2012.

From a fantasy perspective, each pitcher's value holds steady with what it would have been before the trade.  Both are possible end of the rotation fliers in most NL-only leagues, and match-up pitchers at best in mixed leagues.  It is possible that the move to Miami and pairing with Guillen will turn Zambrano around, a situation worth monitoring, but it is not a gamble worth taking on draft day unless you have to.
Nate SpringfieldNate Springfield joined the Baseball Press crew for the 2010 season and hosts the site's podcast. His love for the game has grown thanks to fantasy baseball, with a specialty in NL-only auction leagues. You can contact him at nate@baseballpress.com or follow him on Twitter @NateSpringfield.