Are the Cubs shopping Carlos Zambrano or not?

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Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that “the Cubs are definitely dangling Carlos Zambrano” while Jon Heyman of SI.com dismissed Zambrano rumors as “a time waster” because he has a no-trade clause and plans to remain in Chicago.
So which is it? Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune went to the Cubs’ general manager looking for an answer, but not surprisingly Jim Hendry “declined to discuss” the various (and varying) reports. Here’s all he would say about Zambrano’s status:

He’s got full no-trade rights, which he negotiated into his contract. I fully expect him to come back in 2010 and pitch like the old “Big Z.”

The whole thing is a moot point if Zambrano is unwilling to waive his no-trade clause, which his agent has repeatedly insisted is the case. Of course, if the Cubs truly believed that a trade was impossible then they wouldn’t even listen to calls about Zambrano, yet it seems fairly clear that some level of talks have taken place surrounding the 28-year-old right-hander.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.