THURSDAY, 8:23am: Hendry tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that Zambrano is likely to return to the Cubs next year:
"I fully expect him to come back in 2010 and pitch like the old Big Z."
WEDNESDAY, 9:56am: The availability of Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano is in question. Zambrano, 28, has a full no-trade clause and at least $53.75MM remaining on his contract over the next three years. Zambrano's agent Barry Praver has spoken out multiple times about trade rumors, recently telling the Chicago Tribune:
Jim [Hendry] has not approached us about Carlos waiving the no-trade provision of his contract, nor is Carlos interested in waiving it.
Of course, one wouldn't expect the Cubs GM to involve Praver unless an agreement is close. But Zambrano's desire to remain in Chicago is an important point.
A couple of sportswriting buddies, Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, seem to disagree on Zambrano's availability. Sherman wrote today in the New York Post that "two AL officials say the Cubs are definitely dangling Zambrano," while acknowledging Zambrano's unwillingness to approve a trade. Heyman, on Twitter, called the Zambrano trade rumors a "time waster." Not sure if we get a vote, but MLBTR's source says there's "nothing to it."