Will the Cubs have to pay Zambrano?

When the Cubs put Carlos Zambrano on the disqualified list, it was assumed by everyone that eventually they’d have to pay him the money they aren’t intending to pay. While I think the Cubs certainly have a strong case to even void the entire contract, i don’t think it would ever happen. I was less certain as some that the Cubs would be forced to pay him the money, but still figured they’d have to. 

I wanted to look into this, but so few players are placed on the disqualified list that there doesn’t seem to be much reason to compile a list and look into them individually. The most recent player placed on the disqualified list was then Mets closer Fransisco Rodriguez in 2010. The MLBPA naturally filed a grievance and I remember thinking at the time they’d definitely have to pay him the money. Well, they didn’t. They didn’t pay him a dime of the more than $3 million that he lost to the disqualified list. More than 25% of his 2010 salary was lost and he was placed on the list for an injury that wasn’t baseball related. 

The Mets had also sought to convert his guaranteed contract into a non-guaranteed contract moving forward. In the end, Rodriguez agreed to not seek the money in exchange for the Mets giving up on the idea that they could convert his contract. This is a perfect example of the Mets knowing they could get away with something and asking for something more, which forced Rodriguez’s hand in accepting the settlement. 

The question with regards to Zambrano, since he wasn’t injured, is whether or not the Cubs have cause for not paying him while disqualified. 30 days of pay over a 7-month paycheck is a little under $3 million for Zambrano so the total is similar to Rodriguez. What’s different is that Zambrano did not injure himself away from baseball. What it really comes down to is whether or not a long history of abusing team conduct rules will enable the Cubs to not pay Zambrano. I’m not sure either way and I don’t know if anyone else can be. 

A simple statement about how the MLBPA is going to make the Cubs pay isn’t sufficient evidence. They failed in their last attempt, but were successful in their previous attempt (Milton Bradley). There was only 2 weeks of pay for a guy making $5 million so the total amount of money wasn’t significant at all. It’s possible the Cubs just didn’t want to waste time on that case in an effort to save a half million bucks.

This is different. The Cubs are much less likely to settle when the total is nearly $3 million.


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