Carlos Zambrano returns

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If the Cubs have any hope of unloading Carlos Zambrano on anyone, they’re going to have to showcase him as a starter. That showcasing began last night. It wasn’t pretty, but it could have been way uglier.

Zambrano gave up only two runs over five innings, but that was deceiving: only 49 of his 96 pitches were strikes and he walked seven. The Giants were 2 for 14 with men in scoring position and left 15 men on base. If they had an inkling of where to find a timely hit last night this thing could have been seriously ugly.

But the Cubs have no choice: they have to run Zambrano out there every fifth day no matter what happens. If he can put together a handful of at least arguably respectable starts, there’s a chance that someone will take a chance on the guy (even then, I suspect they’d only take a fraction of the contract). If he can’t get anyone out and/or has another meltdown, the guy may very well be out of baseball next season.

Report: Mariners acquire Chris Heston from the Giants

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.

Joe Nathan wants to pitch in 2017

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 16: Joe Nathan #36 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the ninth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on August 16, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 4-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
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Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.

Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.

According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.