Calculus, Sunk Cost … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continued shaping their roster for the upcoming season on Thursday when they officially shipped Carlos Zambrano to Miami for Chris Volstad. The Cubs received a starting pitcher they control for the next three seasons for a pitcher that would have had a difficult time walking back into the Cubs clubhouse.

The seemingly daily drama that has surrounded Carlos Zambrano since May of 2007 overshadowed how good Zambrano actually was early on and for a majority of his Cubs’ career.

Epstein addressed why they decided to trade Zambrano instead of give him another chance in a conference call with the media. Epstein said the trade talks with the Marlins heated up earlier in the week. The Cubs were reportedly trying to move him for a majority of the off-season. The opportunity came together with Miami and the two sides worked out the details. After talking to players and staff, Epstein realized that Zambrano could never again regain the trust of his teammates. Epstein admitted he was skeptical that Zambrano would be able to earn his way back on the team.

As for Zambrano’s contract, Epstein said, “The calculus for us was would we rather spend that $18 million on one year of Carlos and try to make it work with him here. Best case scenario is that if it did work, he’d be leaving as a free agent at the end of the year. Or, if we had to spend that money anyways as a sunk cost, would we rather spend it on a 25-year old who we can put in our rotation and control for three seasons? That made a lot more sense.”

Will the Cubs’ new regime take the same approach with Alfonso Soriano?

Here’s the update …

Alfonso Soriano
Reportedly Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to find Alfonso Soriano a new team. After the Cubs completed the Carlos Zambrano trade on Thursday, many feel that Alfonso Soriano could be next. Rumors have suggested the Cubs have spoken to at least eight American League teams about Soriano.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have had a couple of inquires about Soriano but could not find a match.

The Boston Globe reported that the Red Sox are not interested in Alfonso Soriano, not even as part of the compensation for Theo Epstein (most think the compensation for Epstein will be a lower-level minor leaguer and possibly cash at this point).

The feeling is that the Cubs would have to eat between $40-$45 million of the $54 million owed to Soriano in order to trade him. At $3-$5 million a season, the thought is an American League team looking for a DH would be willing to take a chance on Soriano.

Theo Epstein emphasized on Thursday that Soriano remains a valuable offensive asset according to a report from Bruce Levine. Epstein also left the door open to trading Soriano. Epstein pointed out that it’s the organization’s responsibility to work with Soriano to get the best out of him.

“At some point in the future, if there’s a transaction that makes sense with any of our players that puts the Cubs in a better position moving forward, we are going to pursue it. But in respect to Alfonso, he has power and is an offensive contributor. We can work with him to get the best out of him and see where that takes us.”

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have spoken to at least eight AL teams over the last six weeks and the Orioles and Mariners could be interested in trading for Soriano.

Theo Epstein talked about sunk cost after dealing Zambrano and the same logic can be used to work out a deal for Soriano. The money is already spent, it is up to the Cubs to decide if they are a better team with or without Alfonso Soriano.

News, Notes and Rumors

Ryan Dempster, Kerry Wood, Matt Garza and Marlon Byrd were among the players Theo Epstein polled about Carlos Zambrano possibly rejoining the Cubs. According to the Tribune, the verdict was unanimous that he would not be able to rejoin the team.

According to the Tribune, as the Cubs roster is currently constructed Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster would anchor the Cubs’ rotation with Travis Wood, Randy Wells and Chris Volstad being strong possibilities for the back-end. Jeff Samardzija, Andrew Cashner and Andy Sonnanstine are looking for an opening.

Keith Law broke down the Volstad-Zambrano deal … an insider subscription is required but it is well worth the read.

The Nationals appear to be deep in the mix for Prince Fielder according to Jon Heyman, but the Cubs are still one of nine teams that are in the running for the slugger. The Cubs do not appear to be willing to go more than five years for Fielder.

According to Jerry Crasnick, don’t count out the Cubs in the Prince Fielder derby.

Some baseball people think Carlos Pena could end up signing a short-term deal with the Cubs. Pena and Fielder are two of Scott Boras’ clients still looking for a team this off-season.

Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel joined Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy during Power Alley (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) to discuss the Carlos Zambrano trade Thursday. Rodriguez was also asked if the Marlins would be in the middle of the bidding for Yoenis Cespedes. Rodriguez expects Miami to be in on Cespedes until the price escalates past what the Marlins are willing to spend on the outfielder.

During an interview on MLB Roundtrip (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio), Chris Volstad told Mike Ferrin and Cliff Floyd that Jed Hoyer called him to welcome him to the Cubs. Volstad is looking forward to meeting Hoyer, Theo Epstein and his teammates at the Cubs Convention.

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

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Quote of the Day

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