Zambrano deal with Miami completed

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Zambrano deal with Miami completed

Sources have confirmed to me tonight that the Cubs have completed a deal that sends right handed starter Carlos Zambrano and 15 million to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Chris Volstad. The proposed trade was first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Zambrano has been a problem for the Cubs for much of the time since he signed a 91.5 million contract extension during the 2007 season and he has never lived up to the expectations that the organization had for him when they paid him to be the team's No. 1 starter.

Several players have confirmed to me that Zambrano would have to change dramatically to be welcomed back on the team because of the number of incidents that he has had during his Cubs career, many of which alienated his teammates. As one Cubs veteran told me recently, "if this was a one time thing we would welcome him back and do all we could to make it work. However, this is the fifth or sixth time he has had an incident and at some point you have to cut ties and move on."

The deal makes a strong statement that Epstein and Co. will not tolerate any nonsense as they go about rebuilding not only the on field product but as they remake the entire Cubs clubhouse culture.

Epstein appeared with me on WGN Radio today and had this to say about Zambrano: The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous cant fit into the culture that we have here, Epstein said. Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either hell change and buy in and fit into this culture and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, Im skeptical as well.

One thing that jumped out at me in talking with Epstein on the radio earlier today was that he seemed to be more hard lined about Zambrano than he has been in the past when asked about him since being named the Cubs president of baseball operations. That could be because when he sat down to do the radio show he knew Big Z was about to be a Miami Marlin. Sources tell me that a resolution should come down in the next 24-48 hours one way or the other.

Cubs add left-handed pitcher to bullpen mix in trade with Brewers

Cubs add left-handed pitcher to bullpen mix in trade with Brewers

The day after the Cubs acquired a new closer, they added a left-handed option to the bullpen.

The Milwaukee Brewers selected Caleb Smith in the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning at the MLB winter meetings and then immediately flipped the southpaw to the Cubs for cash.

Smith is 25 and has pitched only one game above the Double-A level.

Originally selected in the 14th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees, Smith posted a 3.96 ERA and 1.35 WHIP in 27 games (seven starts) in Double-A Trenton last year, striking out 70 batters in 63.2 innings.

With Aroldis Chapman back on the Yankees, Travis Wood still a free agent and Mike Montgomery expected to move into the rotation, the Cubs' bullpen was lacking left-handed pitchers this winter.

The Cubs signed veteran southpaw Brian Duensing last week and Rob Zastryzny is expected to contribute after impressing during his rookie campaign (1.13 ERA). 

Smith represents another option for Joe Maddon's bullpen, but the Cubs have to keep the young pitcher on the 25-man roster all season or else he would go back to his original team (Yankees).

Hector Rondon represents proof Rule 5 Draftees can make an impact when he was selected by the Cubs in 2012, but the organization was in a much different position four years ago than they are now as the defending World Champs with a loaded roster.

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Elsewhere in the Rule 5 Draft, the Cubs lost right-handed pitcher Armando Rivero to the Atlanta Braves.

Rivero will be 29 in February and began his Cubs tenure in 2013 after defecting from Cuba. He's posted a 2.70 ERA and 12.4 K/9 throughout his four minor-league seasons in the Cubs system.

Rivero has spent the last two seasons in Triple-A Iowa, posting a 2.13 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 105 strikeouts in 67.2 innings in 2016.

The Cubs also selected infielder Kevin Cornelius from the Yankees with the 30th pick of the Triple-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft.

Cornelius hit .299 with a .393 on-base percentage and .589 slugging percentage in the Yankees system last season, playing 43 games at Advanced Class-A and 13 games in rookie ball.

Teams can protect players from the MLB portion of the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to the 40-man roster. For the Triple-A part of the Rule 5 Draft, organizations can protect up to 38 more players on top of the 40-man roster.

The Cubs lost infielder Daniel Lockhart to the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Triple-A portion of the Draft.

Lockhart — the 24-year-old son of former big-leaguer Keith Lockhart, who is currently a Cubs scout — played 89 games in the Cubs system in 2016 at Myrtle Beach (Advanced Class-A) and Tennesee (Double-A).

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

Report: Aroldis Chapman returns to Yankees on five-year deal

After helping bring a World Series title back to the North Side, Aroldis Chapman is headed back to New York.

The former Cubs closer signed a five-year, $86 million deal with the Yankees, according to FOX's Ken Rosenthal.

He was acquired by the Cubs in July in exchange for pitcher Adam Warren and prospects Rashad Crawford, Billy McKinney and Gleyber Torres.

Chapman notched 36 saves and owned a 1.01 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and recorded 90 strikeouts across 26 2/3 innings with the Cubs during the regular season.

He appeared in 13 postseason contests, where he registered a 3.45 ERA,1.09 WHIP and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings.