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Chicago Cubs 2012 Hot Stove: Carlos Zambrano To The Kansas City Royals?

The Kansas City Royals GM Dayton Moore has intimated the Royals would be interested in acquiring Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano -- if the price is right.

The 2012 MLB Hot Stove is presently set to "warm," but with the first trade of the off-season already in the books, it's only a matter of days until the free agent market is buzzing with news and rosters are shuffling with activity.

For the Chicago Cubs once-ace Carlos Zambrano, the activity never stopped. Since signing his massive contract in 2007, Zambrano has been a thorough disappointment to Cubs fans and a constant target for criticism. Following Zambrano's rough 2011 season, where his on-field blow-ups landed him on his couch at home, it seems his days with the Cubs are largely numbered. And numbered with small, double-digit kinds of numbers.

Well, the Kansas City Royals may have opened a window to that end. According to CSNChicago.com, Royals GM Dayton Moore recently spoke about the Cubs embattled pitcher:

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 ... 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.

While Moore did not go so far as to leave a contact number for Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, he certainly did leave the door open to possibly acquiring Zambrano if the Cubs assumed a portion of the righty's $18M salary.

Earlier this month, President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein intimated the Cubs would actually hold onto Zambrano for the time being, but did not explicitly say so. Zambrano recently struggled in his first outing in Venezuela's winter league, so his value could hardly be lower now. It makes sense, to that end, that the Cubs would want his value to float a little higher before shopping him around.

For all MLB Hot Stove news for the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For commentary and analysis from the baseball's brightest and best writers, head over to Baseball Nation.