It was over four years ago the last time we heard from Carlos Zambrano. At that time it had been two years since he had last pitched, he had ditched a comeback attempt and said he was happily retired and at peace without baseball in his life.
Things change. Flash forward to 2018 and his agent, Barry Praver, tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that Big Z would like to pitch in the major leagues again. Which, hey, OK!
It’s not at all likely to happen, however. He has reportedly lost 30 pounds since his big league days and is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league after pitching in the Mexican League earlier this year, but his results have been fairly terrible. Between that, a six-year big league layoff and the fact that, when he was in the bigs, he ticked off basically everyone he ever encountered, the odds of anyone giving him a chance are beyond slim. Indeed, I’d say zero.
The crazy thing about it is that Zambrano is still only 37 years-old. That makes him younger than Rich Hill. Younger than Adrian Beltre, Fernando Rodney, Ben Zobrist and, if my cursory look is correct, about 31 other players who were active in 2018. Still, heavy workloads early in Zambrano’s career caught up to him, as he failed to crack 200 innings after age 26, ceased being an effective pitcher at age 29, and last appeared in the majors at age 31.
Still: he earned nearly $115 million for his career and made three All-Star games, posting a 3.66 ERA in 1,959 innings. He may not have a comeback in him, but he did OK for himself before he left.
The Washington Nationals, fresh off signing Stephen Strasburg to a $245 million deal, are now turning their attention to their third base hole. Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports that they have made inquiries to the Chicago Cubs about trading for Kris Bryant.
Emphasis on the word “inquiry” because it’d be premature for the Cubs to trade Bryant at the moment, even if they are reported to be considering the possibility.
Bryant and the Cubs are awaiting word from an arbitrator about Bryant’s years-old service time grievance. If Bryant wins, he becomes a free agent after the 2020 season. If the Cubs win they control him for two more years. The team may or may not choose to trade him in either case as they are reportedly trying to cut payroll, but the price for him will vary pretty significantly depending on whether or not the acquiring club will receive one or two years of control over the former MVP.
For Washington, this would be a means of replacing free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon. Or, perhaps, the inquiries are a means of creating a tad more leverage for the Nats as they talk to Rendon’s agent about re-signing him.
Which, in the past, the Nats said they could not do if they also re-signed Strasburg, though I suspect that’s just posturing too. They may not want to spend big money to keep their World Series core together, but they can afford it. They’re going to see, I suspect, an eight-figure uptick in revenue by virtue of being the defending World Series champs. They are poised to receive a significant payout as a result of recent rulings in their own multi-year dispute with the Orioles and the MASN network. They are, of course, owned by billionaire real estate moguls. All of that taken together means that, if they choose to, they can bring back Rendon. Assuming he chooses to come back too.
But, if that doesn’t happen, they appear to be giving themselves options at the hot corner.