Under the previous Cubs regime Carlos Zambrano was considered a goner, but after meeting recently with new team president Theo Epstein the mercurial right-hander now expects to remain in Chicago.
Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune spoke to an unnamed friend of Zambrano who said “he likes Theo and is looking forward to proving himself next year.”
He’s also apparently happy that pitching coach Mark Riggins has been replaced and Zambrano is expected to resume pitching in the Venezuelan winter league later this week, although if he looks good enough there to draw some interest from other teams it certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Epstein pulled the trigger on a deal.
Zambrano is owed $18 million in the final season of a five-year, $91.5 million contract, but does have the ability to block any trade.
Free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo is headed back to the Brewers on a major league deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports. No other terms have been reported yet, as the agreement is still pending a physical.
Gallardo, 31, completed a one-year run with the Mariners before getting his $13 million option declined by the team last month. He provided little value during his time in Seattle, pitching to a 5-10 record in 22 starts and putting up a 5.72 ERA, 4.1 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 in 130 2/3 innings as both a starter and reliever.
Still, assuming the veteran righty is on the cusp of a comeback, he may as well try for it with his original club. Gallardo last appeared for the Brewers from 2007 to 2014, racking up a cumulative 20.8 fWAR and peaking during the 2010 season, when he earned his first All-Star nomination and Silver Slugger award. This will be his ninth career season with the club.
Even with Gallardo aboard, the Brewers are expected to continue deepening their pitching stores for 2018. With team ace Jimmy Nelson still recovering from shoulder surgery, the club will enter the season with a projected rotation of Gallardo, Zach Davies, Chase Anderson and Junior Guerra, the latter of whom pitched just 70 1/3 innings in 2017 following a right calf strain and shin contusion. Another big name pitcher could help cement Milwaukee’s rotation and keep them competitive for another year, though they don’t appear to have made any concrete moves in that direction so far.