5:02pm: Moore clarified his remarks to MLB.com's Dick Kaegel and said he shouldn't have publicly discussed a player under contract with another team (link on Carrie Muskat's blog).
“It’s our job as a baseball operations department to listen and explore every potential opportunity that would improve our team,” Moore said. “We spend countless hours doing so and we invite everybody’s opinion as to how it pertains to how we could improve our team. And if one of our people brought up Carlos Zambrano, I would listen and ask questions about why they believe that. That’s all that was and I responded in that spirit.”
12:05pm: The Royals have interest in Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano, Mark Carman at 610 Sports Radio learned from talking with GM Dayton Moore yesterday (CSNChicago.com's David Kaplan has Moore's quotes). Moore's comments on Zambrano when asked:
"We would have to be interested. We would have to explore it because that's what you should do. You should explore every opportunity. Carlos Zambrano is a heckuva competitor. Carlos Zambrano has had a lot of success in the major leagues. Carlos Zambrano is actually a very pleasant, easy going, classy person off the field. Sometimes, as with all of us the competitiveness takes over and brings out qualities in us that we are not proud of. Obviously the Cubs grew tired of some of his outbursts but I believe in our coaching staff and we'll always take a chance and a risk on certain players. We'll see how that particular situation unfolds."
Zambrano is owed $18MM in 2012, and has a $19.25MM option that vests for 2013 if he finishes in the top four of the 2012 Cy Young vote. The option seems highly unlikely to vest, but if Zambrano is somehow that good in 2012, perhaps his team wouldn't mind another year. Moore's comments on Z's contract:
"He has a no-trade clause for 29 other teams so he is going to have to be comfortable wherever he goes and there is a lot of money attached to his deal. There is a vesting option that is a part of that worth $18 or 19 million going forward. We certainly wouldn't want to put ourselves in a position where we have to honor a contract of that nature."
The Cubs expect to address the Zambrano situation this week, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. As I wrote in August, the 30-year-old righty has major negative trade value. As a pitcher he's worth a few million dollars, so maybe the Cubs could trade Zambrano for a low-level prospect while assuming $15MM. That assumes Zambrano would approve a trade without requiring compensation. Jed Hoyer told Kaplan he has the ability to eat any contract he feels is necessary to improve the club. It'd probably be better for the Cubs to instead take on a similar bad contract and hope for some value out of that player.