Carlos Zambrano told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com that Cubs manager Lou Piniella promised him that his move to the bullpen will only be temporary as general manager Jim Hendry searches for a set-up man.
“Yeah, that’s what [Cubs manager] Lou [Piniella] said, that’s what we
agreed [upon],” Zambrano said. “They are looking for a setup man. That’s
what they told me. I don’t think I’ll be here [in the bullpen] too long
in this role. But I will be there when they need me.”
Hendry, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency to change course.
“I never predict whether or not we’re going to acquire anybody or not,”
Hendry said. “I don’t have a time frame. This is just the best decision
for the club. A month from now we might have an injury or someone might
slip up, things can change.”
Though they haven’t been linked in talks yet, one possibility for the bullpen is right-hander Juan Cruz, who was inexplicably released by the Royals last week. Cruz was pretty awful last season, but remember that he still touches the mid 90s on his fastball and is just two years removed from a 2.61 ERA with the Diamondbacks.
Big Z made his debut out of the bullpen on Saturday, allowing one run
over 1 1/3 innings. After resting on Sunday, Piniella said the $17 million reliever is available for Monday night’s game
against the Nationals.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.