Earlier today, Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein was asked by a local radio station about the chances of Carl Zambrano staying with his team. He gave a frank and earnest response:

The Carlos Zambrano of 2011 and years previous can’t fit into the culture that we have here. Change needs to happen and change will happen. Either he’ll change and buy in and fit into this culture–and I understand there are a lot of skeptics around about that, and I understand that, and frankly, I’m skeptical as well.

He needs to prove to us that he can change and be part of this culture or we’ll change the personnel and move forward with people who are proud to be Cubs and treat their teammates with respect, treat the fans with respect and can be part of a winning culture in the Cubs’ clubhouse.

If a report from Ken Rosenthal is to be believed, and I can imagine no reason why it shouldn’t, Epstein wasn’t joking around. The Miami Marlins are apparently very close to acquiring Zambrano, who does have a no-trade clause as part of his current contract with the Cubs, and is due to make $18 million this coming season with a vesting option for 2013.

That’s a heck of a lot of money, even for a team that was believed to be in on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson before they signed elsewhere. Zambrano’s addition in Miami would most likely push out Chris Volstad and lead to him joingin a starting rotation consisting of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco.