Carlos Zambrano

Carlos Zambrano says the Cubs need some “changes”

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Yesterday afternoon there were several reports about the Cubs trying to convince a contending team to take Carlos Zambrano and his contract off their hands, which predictably didn’t go very well.

Then a few hours later Zambrano took the mound against the Brewers and threw 6.2 innings of two-run ball in a tough-luck loss, looking visibly upset as manager Mike Quade removed him from the game and then telling anyone who would listen in the clubhouse afterward that the Cubs need to make “changes.”

Here’s how Carrie Muskat of MLB.com described the scene:

“I do want to stay here,” Zambrano said. “At the same time, I want this team to make some changes. If we want to win here, we need to make changes. If I have to go, I have to go but I’ll still have the Cubs in m heart. If the change has to be me, that’s OK.”

The Cubs haven’t approached him about any possible trade. “If it comes, it comes and I’ll think about it,” Zambrano said.

What kind of changes would he like to see the team make? “Change. A lot of change,” he said. “A lot of changes to win.”

Does that mean change the players? “Change,” Zambrano said.

Just connecting the dots, it seems pretty obvious that Zambrano is talking about Quade, although he might also be talking about various under-performing players. You know, like Carlos Zambrano.

Zambrano has a career-worst 4.59 ERA in 21 starts while striking out a career-low 6.1 batters per nine innings. He’s still a decent mid-rotation starter, but his arm has been worked a whole lot harder than most 30-year-olds and with one more year and $18 million remaining on his contract he’s obviously being paid like a top-of-the-rotation stud.

Somehow being able to trade Zambrano, either for a decent prospect or just to wipe his contract off the books, would be a very positive “change” for the Cubs. Short of that miracle taking place, however, firing the guy who gave Zambrano the contract might be a worthwhile “change” and it sure seems like Quade’s supporters are rapidly shrinking in number as well.

UPDATE: Our friends at CSNChicago.com have the video of Zambrano’s “changes” rant.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.