Source: No Yanks for Carlos Zambrano
CHICAGO -- Put a big X through Big Z as a possibility for the New York Yankees' starting rotation.
A baseball source with knowledge of the Yankees' intentions said Saturday that the team has "zero interest" in making a trade for Carlos Zambrano, the Chicago Cubs' talented but volatile right-hander.
In an interview with FoxSports.com, Zambrano indicated Friday that he is willing to waive the no-trade clause in his contract if the Cubs approach the three-time All-Star about being moved.
And there have been recent reports of the Yankees scouting Zambrano's recent starts. With the Yankees' starting staff decimated by injuries to Phil Hughes and Bartolo Colon, it seemed like a natural fit.
Not so, said the source, who told ESPNNewYork.com, "It's all (B.S.) There's no seriousness to it at all."
The official cited Zambrano's declining ability -- the velocity on his fastball has dropped in recent years from an average of 92 mph in 2009 to 89.8 mph this year, according to FanGraphs.com -- and prohibitive contract.
"He's just not worth the money," the official said. "The Cubs would have to pick up most if not all of the contract. I just don't see it happening."
Zambrano, 30, has played all of his 10 seasons with the Cubs. He is in the midst of a five-year, $91.5 million contract which runs through 2012, with a $19.25 million vesting option for 2013.
Zambrano is owed the remainder of his $17.875 million salary for this season, $18 million for next season and the lucrative option which vests if he is healthy at the end of the 2012 season. This season, Zambrano is 5-4 with a 4.59 ERA in 15 starts.
Zambrano pitched Wednesday in a loss to the Milwaukee Brewers so the Yankees will not see him on this trip.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did not return a call seeking comment on Saturday, and manager Joe Girardi refused to discuss a player who was still the property of another team.
"I just don't want to walk that line about tampering," Girardi said. "I don't want to get a call. I get fined enough."
However, pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who held the same role with the Cubs for nine seasons, gave Zambrano a high recommendation.
"He's a good person," Rothschild said. "Off the field, he's a great family man, he was a good guy to coach, he'll listen (to) all the things you would expect from a professional player. The stuff you see on the field is a result of just the passion he takes to the mound."
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Rothschild was on the field in 2009 when Zambrano, having just been ejected for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire, fired a baseball into the left-field stands.
"That just came at a frustrating time in the game for him and he couldn't take it," Rothschild said. "I was trying to talk him out of it but he did it anyway. Then he broke a few bats over his knee and took out a water cooler."
Still, Rothschild said Zambrano's fire is an essential element to his pitching style.
"You don't want to take the passion completely away from him when he's pitching," Rothschild said. "Sometimes I think he's keyed himself down so low he's not the same pitcher on the mound. There's a fine line there. You just have to find that equilibrium and maintain it. I've done it before (with Zambrano) and I'm sure I could do it again."
But it no longer looks as if Rothschild will get the chance.
Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com.