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.
Carl Edwards Jr. didn't get a save or a win Monday night, but he was easily the most impressive pitcher on the field for the Cubs.
The 25-year-old right-hander came on in the sixth inning in relief of Eddie Butler and carved through the heart of the Nationals order, needing only 13 pitches to strike out Brian Goodwin, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman.
For starters, Joe Maddon deserves plenty of credit for deploying Edwards in an integral spot, even if it was so early in the game. But the Cubs were clinging to a 1-0 lead at the time and Maddon didn't want Butler to face the Washington order for a third time, so Edwards was the call to keep things close.
And that's exactly what Edwards did in dominant fashion. It was the fourth time this season he struck out three batters in an inning, but in the previous instances, he needed at least 16 pitches to do so.
Here is the complete sequence from Edwards to the three helpless Nats (for one inning, at least):
Harper was also locked in at the plate at the time, as it was his only strikeout in the last two games in which he's collected six hits in eight at-bats.
Edwards has been rolling this season with a 1.72 ERA and sparkling 0.82 WHIP. He has 44 strikeouts in 31.1 innings, ranking 18th in baseball in K/9 (12.64).
Since giving up three runs in an outing June 14 against the Mets, Edwards has not allowed a run in five innings, striking out seven batters and surrendering only two singles and a pair of walks.
The Cubs gave Kyle Schwarber time to sort things out by sending him down to Triple-A Iowa, and Schwarber's first game back in the minors shows he may need some time.
Schwarber's first game with the Iowa Cubs was a forgettable one. He struck out in his first three plate appearances before singling in his last at-bat. He struck out looking in the first inning before striking out swinging his next two times up.
Schwarber batted third in the lineup and played left field. Iowa won 1-0 against the New Orleans Baby Cakes.
He last played for Iowa in 2015, but only spent 17 games there. He hit .333 with three homers and a 1.036 OPS in that short stint. Before getting sent down Schwarber was hitting .171 with the Cubs with 12 home runs, but also 75 strikeouts in 64 games.