Miami trading for Carlos Zambrano this offseason involved little risk, as the Cubs covered all but $3 million of his $18 million salary and the Marlins only had to part with Chris Volstad in the swap.
Unfortunately that low-risk move hasn’t paid off, as Zambrano went 5-9 with a 4.54 ERA and 83/67 K/BB ratio in 115 innings spread over 20 starts. And today the Marlins demoted him to the bullpen, filling his rotation spot with Wade LeBlanc.
Zambrano actually got off to a strong start, sporting a 2.81 ERA as recently as early June, but since then he’s 1-6 with a 7.62 ERA and more walks (38) than strikeouts (27) in 41 innings while allowing opponents to hit .290.
He’s mostly been a model citizen in Miami, which is certainly a change from his Chicago days, but of course that doesn’t seem quite as important when you can’t throw the ball over the plate. And dating back to the beginning of last season Zambrano now has a 4.70 ERA and 123 walks in 261 innings while managing just 6.2 strikeouts per nine frames.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.