FOX Sports Exclusive
Zambrano prefers to stay in Chicago
“If they come to me and want to trade me, obviously it’s because they don’t want me here anymore,” Zambrano told FOXSports.com. “I always say that. I’ll be here until the Cubs decide to trade me.”
Zambrano’s position differs from that of Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez, another of the team’s high-priced veterans. Ramirez said earlier this month that he would not waive his no-trade clause.
Derrek Lee, the Cubs’ former first baseman, invoked his no-trade protection to reject a deal to the Angels last season before accepting one to the Braves.
“I won’t be like other players with no-trade clauses and say, ‘No, I want to stay here, I want to stay here,’” Zambrano said.
“I’ve heard rumors. I’ve already talked to my family. They said, ‘It’s OK. If you think it’s good for you, if you feel you want to be traded, do it.’”
Zambrano, who turned 30 on June 1, created a stir earlier this month when he called the Cubs’ play “embarrassing.” However, he said his preference is to remain with the team, which signed him out of Venezuela in 1997 and brought him to the majors in 2001.
“I don’t want to leave,” Zambrano said. “I’ve been here 10 years. The town has been special to me, the fans, too.”
Zambrano is owed the balance of his $17.875 million salary this season and $18 million next season. The Cubs almost certainly would need to include cash to facilitate any deal.
The team, however, is not yet ready to trade veterans, not after winning four of its last five games, including a 3-1 victory over the Yankees on Friday, following a trying 2-11 stretch.
The Yankees have been linked to Zambrano; they’re in a stronger financial position than most clubs, and their pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, previously was with the Cubs.
Major-league sources, though, said Friday that the Yankees’ interest was minimal due to Zambrano’s volatile personality, declining velocity and 4.59 ERA in the National League.
Zambrano’s average fastball has declined from 91.5 mph to 90.6 to 89.8 over the past three seasons, according to Fangraphs.com.
More Stories From Ken Rosenthal