Could the latest resurgence of Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano lead to the team landing Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez? Zambrano, who has a full no-trade clause, has repeatedly said he plans on retiring after his current contract runs out after the 2012 season (vesting option for '13), meaning his trade value falls the longer the Cubs hold on to him.
Zambrano has been lights out since rejoining the Cubs' rotation. His outbursts at the onset of the season lead to a lengthy suspension and anger management training, but Zambrano's behavior and the Cubs' subsequent reaction says a lot about the team's relationship with Big Z.
One of Zambrano's first outburst came back in 2007 when he brawled with battery mate Michael Barrett in the dugout. The team ended up trading Michael Barrett later that season, and Zambrano finished the year with a career high 18 wins and 13 losses (also a career high).
Earlier this season, Zambrano went on a tirade in the dugout after a bad first inning and went toe-to-toe with Derrek Lee. The team sent Zambrano away from the club for treatment, traded away Derrek Lee (who is in a contract year), and ultimately returned Big Z to the rotation.
Since being reinstated on July 30th, Zambrano has gone 7-0 with a 1.46 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. His control has been shaky, but he has been calm and collected pitching with a purpose when the Cubs' season seemed over.
Zambrano is obviously a very emotional person, but he has always been apologetic for his actions and the Cubs have stood by him. Trading him would certainly signal an end of an era, but it could also usher in a new one.
Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez told reporters that he wouldn't mind playing in Chicago with the Cubs. Gonzalez, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season, likes Wrigley Field's dimensions and the fan base.
''Chicago's a great town, and they have great fans, and I like the fact that it's a small ballpark. I know the wind can play against you, but it can play for you, too. There's definitely some positives. And my wife loves Chicago, for the shopping.''
Gonzalez is a career .320 hitter with 7 home runs and a .693 slugging percentage in 75 career at-bats at Wrigley Field. The Cubs created a hole at first base when they traded Derrek Lee, and may feature a platoon of Xavier Nady, Tyler Colvin, and Micah Hoffpauir at first next season.
That is, unless they make a big trade for Gonzalez.
There is no way a straight up trade would happen, meaning prospects likely on both sides would have to be included.