Lee Deal Could Help Cubs

Lee Deal Could Help Cubs

The New York Yankees’ swing and whiff at Cliff Lee could be one of the best developments of the winter for the Cubs if it means the Yankees make an aggressive push for Carlos Zambrano.

That’s assuming Zambrano can be persuaded to waive his full no-trade rights to reunite with Larry Rothschild, the only big-league pitching coach he has had.

A lot of dominoes must fall in line for anything to happen. A source said the Yankees, for instance, didn’t discuss Zambrano during their organizational meetings this offseason, unlike last year when they looked at him as a possible buy-low, high-ceiling, change-of-scenery proposition.

But with Lee, the top free-agent pitcher on the market, taking his talents back to Philly, the Yankees have more than $20 million a year in the coffers they had set aside for Lee, and speculation in the New York media is centering on Zambrano.

The Cubs have said publicly — and privately — since late in the season that their plans for 2011 include Zambrano. And trading him would leave a tough hole to fill in a rotation that already has highly questionable depth.

But if the Yankees were willing to take all or at least the vast majority of the $36 million guaranteed to Zambrano over the next two years, a potential deal could quickly become a no-brainer for the Cubs.

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