Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that “the Cubs are definitely dangling Carlos Zambrano” while Jon Heyman of SI.com dismissed Zambrano rumors as “a time waster” because he has a no-trade clause and plans to remain in Chicago.
So which is it? Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune went to the Cubs’ general manager looking for an answer, but not surprisingly Jim Hendry “declined to discuss” the various (and varying) reports. Here’s all he would say about Zambrano’s status:
He’s got full no-trade rights, which he negotiated into his contract. I fully expect him to come back in 2010 and pitch like the old “Big Z.”
The whole thing is a moot point if Zambrano is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause, which his agent has repeatedly insisted is the case. Of course, if the Cubs truly believed that a trade was impossible then they wouldn’t even listen to calls about Zambrano, yet it seems fairly clear that some level of talks have taken place surrounding the 28-year-old right-hander.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.