Cubs Ship Zambrano To Miami For Volstad

The Deal
Headed by Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and a new front-office team, the Cubs signaled their intention to build for the future this offseason by letting Aramis Ramirez leave as a free agent and trading away Sean Marshall. Many expected Chicago to continue dealing, perhaps moving ace Matt Garza or closer Carlos Marmol next. Confounding those expectations, though, the Cubs found a taker for tempermental veteran Carlos Zambrano, shipping him (and $15.5 million) to the Marlins for 25-year-old righthander Chris Volstad.

Volstad qualifies for arbitration for the first time this winter, pricing him out of Miami’s plans, much like fellow Marlins trade exports John Baker and Burke Badenhop this offseason. (Note that Zambrano is locked in at $2.5 million, and that’s more than Volstad will earn through the arbitration process.) A 2005 first-round pick out of high school, Volstad made a big impression three years later by jumping from Double-A to the big leagues at age 21 and delivering a 2.88 ERA over 84 innings for the Fish. He regressed badly in three follow-up seasons (see stats below), but last year he rediscovered some of the velocity and groundball mojo that made him a prospect in the first place. Volstad averaged 91.3 mph on his fastball, as per FanGraphs, placing him in the same neighborhood as Chad Billingsley and Matt Cain. He generated groundballs on 52.3 percent of balls in play, which ranked ninth among National League starters with at least 150 innings.

Much like fellow Cubs winter trade acquisitions such as third baseman Ian Stewart (a Rockies first-rounder in 2003) and lefthander Travis Wood (a Reds second-rounder in 2005), Volstad is coming off a poor season but still has time to make good on his one-time prospect billing. Perhaps a change of scenery will help him and Stewart and Wood get there.

Zambrano waived his vesting player option for 2013 to facilitate the trade to Miami, where he teams up Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and manager Ozzie Guillen on a completely remade roster. He missed the last six weeks of the 2011 season after a blowup in Atlanta in which he threw at the Braves’ Chipper Jones after allowing five homers in 4 1/3 innings. The Cubs placed Zambrano on the disqualified list on Aug. 13 and he did not pitch again during the season, though he did make five starts for Caribes in the Venezuelan League, going 0-1, 2.45 with 15 strikeouts and 10 walks in 22 innings.

 
Cubs Acquire
Chris Volstad, rhp

Age: 25. Remaining Commitment: Arbitration-eligible for 2012-14 seasons ($445,000 salary in 2011).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Florida (NL) 2011 5 13 4.89 29 29 0 165.2 187 96 90 23 49 117 1.43
3-Year Totals 26 35 4.88 88 88 0 499.2 543 290 271 69 168 326 1.42
 
Marlins Acquire
Carlos Zambrano, rhp

Age: 30. Remaining Commitment: 1 year, $18 million (Cubs send $15.5 million).

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Chicago (NL) 2011 9 7 4.82 24 24 0 145.2 154 80 78 19 56 101 1.44
3-Year Totals 29 20 3.99 88 72 0 444.2 428 213 197 36 203 370 1.42

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