When the Cubs moved Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen last month, it highlighted the team’s need to offload the three remaining seasons on the five-year $90 million contract the former ace signed in 2007.
Hoping to find someone who would pick up even a percentage of Zambrano’s contract, the Cubs partnered with Groupon, a hot web site that offers “ridiculous” daily deals and then splits the proceeds with the business partner.
“By selling Zambrano’s services for half price and splitting the proceeds, we can earn back nearly $5 million a year from this god-awful contract with a moody manchild who’s only won 24 games in three years,” said Cubs owner Tom Ricketts. “It’s the best we can hope for.”
Groupon normally sells experience-based deals like sailing trips, discounted dinners and event tickets. Groupon was hopeful a foolish baseball GM with deep pockets would stumble across the listing, but the startup’s management later regretted making the deal.
“I learned there’s only one GM crazy enough to make that purchase,” said Groupon CEO Andrew Mason. “And he’s the one who signed Zambrano in 2007.”
Groupon reported the listing for Zambrano’s contract has received nearly 500,000 views, but no buyers yet. It might be a tough sell given the demographics of the site’s regular visitors.
“I was, like, looking for something cool my boyfriend and I can do when his parents visit from Ohio,” said Lakeview resident Katie McDonnell. “The Groupon that day was to hang out with some Cubs player for three years. I love the Cubbies but $9 million a year seems like a lot. I’ll have to ask my dad if he can spare it.”
Groupon was having broad success selling its “side deal” for the day, $300 worth of anger management classes for only $75. So far one user — BigZee38 — had purchased approximately $75,000 worth of classes.
From the May 2010 issue. Click here to subscribe today!