Carlos Zambrano scheduled to make nine starts in Venezuela

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Carlos Zambrano will participate in the Venezuelan winter league in an effort to catch up on all the pitching he missed while suspended by the Cubs, with Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reporting that he’s scheduled to make nine starts for Los Caribes de Anzoategui.

Zambrano’s last game action came way back on August 12, but he’s slated to throw a simulated game tomorrow in preparation for his first start Sunday.

New team president Theo Epstein has said that he wants to meet with Zambrano to discuss his Cubs future, so by making regular starts in Venezuela the 31-year-old right-hander is basically auditioning for a possible trade. Zambrano is owed $18 million in the final season of a five-year, $91.5 million contract and has the ability to block any move.

Angels reportedly looking at Yasmani Grandal

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With Wilson Ramos signing and the list of teams who are serious contenders for J.T. Realmuto shrinking by the day, we’re getting close to a game of musical chairs for teams looking for catchers. The biggest name left in that game is Yasmani Grandal, and Jon Morosi of MLB Network say that the Angels have their eye on him.

The Angels were one of the clubs that was in on Ramos before he signed with the Mets yesterday, so it makes sense. It also makes sense by virtue of the fact that, Grandal’s considerable postseason struggles aside, he has hit quite well in recent years. Indeed, his best offensive season came just this past year, with him hitting .241/.349/.466 (121 OPS+) with 24 home runs in 140 games. And, those postseason defensive struggles notwithstanding, he remains an excellent defensive catcher overall.