Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Rehashing on Zambrano

Remember the little thing about Carlos Zambrano yesterday?  I had a quick reread of it last night, and commented on the DJF post about the notion of acquiring him in a trade, and it really kind of made me think about what would be a fair deal for the Jays to ever consider taking him in to the mix.  In writing my comment last night, I kind of decided that I should probably contribute something similar to my own blog instead of/in addition to commenting it on someone elses.  Below is basically a more in-depth version of that comment.

First, let's revisit what's going on with the proposed deal with the Cubs.  Tim at MLBTR suggests that the Jays trade Mark Teahen (prorated portion of $4.75MM for this season, $5.5MM next season) for Carlos Zambrano (prorated portion of $17.875MM for this season, 18MM next season, virtually impossible $19.225MM vesting option with a top-4 in Cy Young voting in the '12 season) and $12.5MM.  Basically, the Cubs would be eating the difference between the Zambrano and Teahen contracts for next year in order to make the trade.  That's where I find my first problem.  This season is ~75% finished, meaning that 25% of this season's contracts still remain. Zambrano is still owed $4.4+MM this year, whereas Teahen is owed slightly over $1.1MM, for a difference of more than $3MM this season alone, or a total difference in contacts of $15.5MM from now until the end of the contracts.

I think we can all agree that Zambrano, when on his meds or whatever, is far from useless.  He's averaged right around 3WAR/season over the course of his career, and in his prime, was probably worth pretty close to the $17MM and change that he was getting.  Obviously, he's no longer in his prime, but he's still just 30 years old, and has put up 1.0WAR this season, despite having an off-year.  I'm sure there's still at least something of value there.  Teahen, however?  He's in the midst of his FOURTH CONSECUTIVE SEASON OF NEGATIVE WAR.  How the fuck does that happen?  He's seriously still in the majors?  ON A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT?!?!  Kenny Williams, you're a madman.  Granted, a lot of that comes from really horrific fielding, but his bat is nothing to be at all happy about; he has 1 season of above average wOBA, and another of almost exactly league average wOBA (fueled by babips of .329 and .359 respectively).

The big problem with Zambrano though, is the fact that he's so likely to lose his fucking mind again.  He's had outburst after outburst over the last few years, and I can't imagine it's got a whole lot to do with being in Chicago.  What would change in Toronto?  He's a loose cannon deep down, and that kind of player comes with an absolute ton of risk.

I feel like the Jays would demand enough cash in this deal to justify being able to cut Zambrano at any point they desire.  Someone known to be a clubhouse cancer, especially one that is earning $18MM per season, should be on a no-tolerance policy, and should be expendable at any time.  The only reason The Cubs haven't done so is because they don't want to just eat the $21MM that they owe him over the next year and a quarter.

$12.5MM isn't enough cash for the Jays to assume the risk of Zambrano going off the deep-end again, and the Jays having to cut him.  Based on any and all reports, Teahen not only understands his current role on this team, but has accepted it, knowing why he was included in the Edwin Jackson deal.  Zambrano is just simply certified fucked in the head.  My comment in the DJF thread originally said that I would accept no less than $15MM (or, say the original $12.5MM+ a prospect), but after thinking about it and doing some number crunching on the contracts, I think I'd want even more.  AA would have a ton of leverage in this deal, since all Mark Teahen is doing is taking up a roster spot, while Z is an acid burning a hole in that entire team.

My new number would be closer to $17MM.  There is a half-decent chance that Zambrano is going to lose his shit again, and if that does happen, he should be cut immediately.  If the Jays are going to cut him after trading for him, especially when they don't particularly need him, they should be able to cut him without batting an eye, and if there is a high likelihood of him being cut in the future, the Jays should want to secure a profit on him.  If they have to eat anything around $3MM, they should ask for the difference between the salaries ($15.5MM) plus an extra piece as an insurance policy against dropping him earlier than the end of 2012.

Let's say Zambrano has a 25% chance of either going crazy again, or just sucking enough to the point of being completely useless.  The Jays should ask for an extra 25% of what they will be paying him (so .25*[$18MM+$4.4MM-$15.5]=$1.725).  Obviously, if they think there's less than a 25% chance of that happening, change that percentage to whatever that is and adjust properly, but under my model, it would be $17.725MM+ Zambrano for Mark Teahen.

Update- I should probably point out that 17MM+Zambrano for the waste of space that is Mark Teahen is probably never going to happen, even if it's Jim Hendry that we're dealing with here.  That just goes to show you how fucking horrible and untradeable this contract is.

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