Zambrano Out, Volstad In and Two Minor League Signings

Theo Epstein spent an hour on Wednesday afternoon discussing the state of the Chicago Cubs on WGN Radio. Epstein covered a variety of topics during the question and answer session about his team.

The Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations was asked about Carlos Zambrano and how he fit would fit in with the team moving forward.

Theo Epstein said, “The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here. Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture – and I understand there are a lot of skeptics about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well. He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.”

Less than two hours after Epstein made those comments about Zambrano, rumblings out of Venezuela indicated that Carlos Zambrano was on the verge of being traded to the Miami Marlins … and less than four hours later, the trade was confirmed by several outlets.

The deal is not official but is expected to be announced as soon as Thursday. The Cubs will send Carlos Zambrano and at least $15 million to the Marlins for right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad.

News also surfaced that the Cubs signed first baseman/outfielder Joe Mather and infielder Edgar Gonzalez to minor league contracts … and the Cubs announced pitchers and catchers will report to Fitch Park on February 18. Position players are to report by February 23 with the first full squad workout on February 24.

Here’s the update …

Joe Mather and Edgar Gonzalez
According to Baseball America, the Cubs have signed two veterans to minor league deals … likely with invites to big league camp. The Cubs have not announced the signings but according to BA they have signed first baseman/outfielder Joe Mather and infielder Edgar Gonzalez.

The Cardinals selected Joe Mather in the third round of the 2001 draft. The right-handed outfielder and first baseman played in 36 games for the Braves last year. Mather, 29 years old, spent time in the Braves and Rockies system in 2011 and put together a combined .306/.359/.461/.820 line with 19 doubles, a triple and seven home runs in 73 games at the Triple-A level.

Joe Mather’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Edgar Gonzalez, brother of Adrian, played in 82 games for the Padres in 2009 … his last action at the big league level. The 33-year old (June 14, 1978) infielder played in Japan in 2010 and spent last season in the Giants organization.

Gonzalez put together a .315/.378/.457/.835 line with 30 doubles and 14 home runs in 137 games at the Triple-A level (Pacific Coast League). Gonzalez played all four infield positions (SS-58, 3B-23, 2B-49, 1B-1).

Edgar Gonzalez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Cubs Corner with Theo Epstein
The CCO will have more on Theo Epstein’s interview on WGN Radio before the end of the week. In the meantime, here are a few quotes from Epstein made during the question and answer session on 720 WGN.

On Bryan LaHair: “Bryan LaHair is our first baseman for now. I don’t believe in the concept of 4-A players. The guy can hit. I think hitters hit no matter where they are and this kid has hit. He’s hit everywhere he’s ever been. It’s the right time for an organization like us to give him the opportunity.”

On Kerry Wood: “Kerry Wood is exactly the type of guy we want to build a winning culture here in Chicago.” Epstein added, “If we can’t work this out, we’re doing something wrong.” The Cubs are negotiating a new contract for Wood with his agent.

On the Red Sox Compensation: “It’s still on the table. We’ll get it resolved. I think both clubs are approaching it in good faith. We need to find a resolution that both parties are happy with.” The Cubs and Sox still have a good working relationship after what has transpired over the last three months. Epstein said when the Sean Marshall deal was announced that he was in Boston and went to Fenway and held the conference call with the media from his old desk.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from George Ofman, three American League teams are interested in Alfonso Soriano. The Orioles continue to be connected to Soriano … the Cubs’ left fielder played for Buck Showalter in Texas.

Marlon Byrd could be the next Cub traded according to Dave Kaplan … unless a team blinks on Matt Garza.

FanGraphs discussed the Chris Volstad and Carlos Zambrano trade from both angles … How Much Of Zambrano Is Left For Miami? and Volstad heads to Chicago. All told, the Cubs and Marlins traded fifth starters … and Volstad may offer a little upside for the Cubs.

Dale Sveum and the Cubs make their first trip to the Marlins’ new stadium in mid-April (April 17 – April 19). What are the chances Carlos Zambrano starts one of the three games of that series? The Marlins make the trip to Wrigley for a three-game series in July (July 17 – July 19).

A flurry of minor league contracts were announced on Wednesday and several former Cubs agreed to minor league deals with new organizations that included non-roster invitations to big league camp … Chad Gaudin (Marlins), Andres Blanco (Nationals), Chad Tracy (Nationals), Jeff Stevens (Mets) and Eric Patterson (Tigers).

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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