Carlos Zambrano traded to Miami, Cubs get Chris Volstad in return

January 5, 2012

Carlos Zambrano looks on during a game against the Florida Marlins at Sun Life Stadium May 18, 2011. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Online Staff Report

Carlos Zambrano will not get his wish to “remain a Cub for life.” The Chicago Cubs have agreed to send the 30-year-old pitcher to Miami in return for 25-year-old starting pitcher Chris Volstad.

The Cubs will pick up about $15.5 million of Zambrano’s salary, while the Marlins will pay the remaining $2.5 million.

The 6-foot-8 Volstad started 102 games over four seasons with the Marlins. He is 32-39 as a starter and has a 4.59 career ERA.

Zambrano last pitched for the Cubs Aug. 12, 2011. After giving up five home runs to the Atlanta Braves, he was ejected from the game after aggressively throwing two inside pitches at Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.

Following the Aug. 12 game, Zambrano cleaned out his locker from the visitors’ clubhouse and told the team he was retiring. Aug. 13, the Cubs placed Zambrano on the 30-day disqualified list, preventing him from having any activity with the club and having his pay suspended for a period of 30 days.

Zambrano later apologized for his actions and said he wanted to “remain a Cub for life.” Sept. 2, 2011, the Cubs announced Zambrano would not pitch for the rest of the 2011 season.

In November 2011, Zambrano met with new Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. Epstein reportedly said Zambrano seemed apologetic, but added in a Chicago Tribune report that “[F]rom what I understand, he has seemed that way before, so I think this is a trust-but-verify situation.”

Zambrano will join former Chicago White Sox Manager and current Miami Marlins Manager Ozzie Guillen in Miami. Guillen reportedly pushed for the trade.

Guillen and Zambrano bonded over their Venezuelan heritage while they were both in Chicago, and Zambrano even had dinner with Guillen following a 2010 dugout explosion that occurred during an interleague game against the White Sox. The move angered Lou Piniella, the Cubs’ manager at the time.

Guillen reportedly said he and Zambrano had been texting one another every day during baseball’s winter meetings, but at the time said he was not pursuing Zambrano.

We talk as friends, we talk about what happened in the past, yes,” Guillen said during the winter meetings. “We talk about how better it’s going to be, yes. We talk about what kind of pitcher he can be, yes. But talking about the Marlins, I never did.”

Zambrano’s 11 seasons with the Cubs were often marred by seemingly temperamental outbursts. The Cubs likely had higher expectations for Zambrano on Aug. 17, 2007, the day they signed him to a $91.5 million deal over five seasons through 2012.

During his career spanning back to the 2001 season, Zambrano is 125-81 with a career 3.60 ERA. He is a three-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger winner, and also finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting three times. He pitched a no-hitter Sept. 14, 2008, against the Houston Astros.

A switch-hitter, Zambrano has a career .244 batting average with 23 home runs, 69 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .396. The 23 home runs are the most ever by a Cubs pitcher. He also co-owns with Ferguson Jenkins the record for most home runs hit in a single season by a Cubs pitcher, hitting six in 2006. He has pinch hit 20 times throughout his career.

Despite his performance as a player, Zambrano has often been at odds with fans, umpires, teammates and management during his career.

In 2007, Zambrano got into a fight with teammate and catcher Michael Barrett. The fight began in the dugout and continued in the locker room. Barrett sustained a bruise under his eye and a cut lip as a result of the altercation.

Later in 2007, Zambrano blasted Cubs fans after being booed at Wrigley Field following a four-inning performance. In a postgame interview, he said: “I thought these were the greatest fans in baseball, but they showed me today that they only care about themselves. That’s not fair, when you are struggling, you want to feel like you have their support. I don’t accept their reaction.” Zambrano apologized for his comments the next day.

In 2009, Zambrano went on a tirade against an umpire, throwing a baseball into the outfield, pretending to eject the umpire and slamming his glove against the dugout fence. The tantrum led to a suspension and a $3,000 fine.

June 25, 2010, during a game against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field, Cubs coaching staff had to separate Zambrano from teammate and first baseman Derrek Lee. Zambrano had given up four runs in the first inning and proceeded to mount a furious tirade in the dugout. Zambrano appeared to yell at Lee, whom he reportedly blamed for not fielding a sharply-hit ball that resulted in a leadoff double. Piniella did not send Zambrano back to the mound in the second inning. Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry suspended Zambrano indefinitely for his actions, and the next day, Piniella announced Zambrano would be moved to the bullpen when he returned from his suspension.

Earlier this offseason, the Marlins signed former Chicago White Sox starter Mark Buehrle, former San Diego Padres closer Heath Bell and former New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. The team opens its new $515 million, retractable-roof stadium in 2012. They had the lowest payroll of any team in the major leagues last season.

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