Report: Cubs 'plan on shopping' Carlos Zambrano

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Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs “plan on shopping” Carlos Zambrano this offseason, but the odds of a trade seem fairly slim.
The most obvious hurdle is that Zambrano has a full no-trade clause as part of the five-year extension that he signed in August of 2007, but even assuming that he’s willing to accept a deal how many teams will be interested in paying him $18 million per season for 2010, 2011, and 2012?
Perhaps that price tag would have been palatable to some high-payroll teams a few years ago, when Zambrano was an ace and money was flowing more freely, but things have changed. Zambrano will throw under 200 innings for the second straight year after topping the 200-inning mark annually from 2003 to 2007, and while his stints on the disabled list this season have been for hamstring and back injuries there’s an awful lot of mileage on his 28-year-old right arm.
Plus, he’s simply no longer a No. 1 starter. During his first four full seasons in the Cubs’ rotation Zambrano went 59-32 with a 3.14 ERA, but over the past three seasons he has ERAs of 3.95, 3.91, and 3.77. His strikeout rate has declined, his walk rate hasn’t improved, and he’s no longer an extreme ground-ball pitcher. He’s just not an $18 million pitcher at this point, let alone an $18 million pitcher worth giving up legitimate prospects to acquire.

The St. Louis Cardinals announce their first Pride Night

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The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they will hold their first Pride Night on August 25th.

A lot of teams have Pride Nights, but it’s worth noting that the Cardinals are holding one given some bad press — some fair, some unfair — they have received in recent years when it comes to matters of diversity and inclusion.

Earlier this month the club received criticism from the LGBT community due to Lance Berkman’s presence for the team’s annual Christian Day, given his past comments about transgender people and his participation in a Houston political campaign over access to public restrooms. Recently, a former Cardinals minor league player claimed he left baseball after enduring anti-gay comments from his coaches and teammates.

As club president Bill DeWitt III noted in the official announcement however, the Cardinals have hosted LGBT groups in the past. He says that the club is eager to “remind fans that everyone is welcome at Busch Stadium.” He notes that the event will raise money for the PrideSTL Scholarship Fund which, in DeWitt’s words, “help courageous students in our community.”

Nice move, Cardinals.

Johnny Cueto expected to opt-out of his deal after the season

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Johnny Cueto signed a six-year $130 million deal with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. In his first season he went 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA and 198 strikeouts in 219.2 innings, helping lead the Giants to the playoffs. This season has been rocky for Cueto — he’s got a a 4.42 ERA in 15 starts and has battled blisters — but they’ve been far rockier for the Giants overall, as they sit in last place in the NL West and have the second worst record in baseball.

Many suspect that the Giants will either rebuild or, at the very least, restructure some in response to this nightmare year. If so, they’re likely going to be doing it with Cueto, who Jon Heyman reports is going to opt-out of his deal:

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is planning to opt out of his contract at the end of the year, but he would listen to any extension offer . . . Cueto has $84 million to go over four years. It would probably take an injury or major slump for Cueto not to opt out. But it makes sense that he will.

Heyman says the Giants are not inclined to give him an extension, so expect to see Cueto on the free agent market three days after the World Series ends, which is the deadline for him to exercise his opt-out rights.