Cubs' Zambrano: 'I must go' if no deal; Seeks Zito Money
Tuesday, February 13 2007 @ 12:13 PM EST
Contributed by: SaberCubbie
Cubs NewsBy Paul Sullivan
Tribune staff reporter
February 12, 2007, 10:50 PM CST
MESA, Ariz. -- After announcing at the Cubs Convention he wouldn't discuss a contract extension with the Cubs if they don't come to an agreement before Opening Day, Carlos Zambrano said Monday he's gone if he has to play out the season.
Zambrano, seeking a long-term deal with an annual salary in the range of Barry Zito's $18 million-a-year contract with San Francisco, dropped the bombshell in an interview with WGN-Ch. 9.
"I'm ready to sign, and I would do my job anyway with the Cubs this year," Zambrano said. "Whatever happens, I don't want to know [anything] about a contract during the season. I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts. If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."
The Cubs can still negotiate with Zambrano if he becomes a free agent. They re-signed Aramis Ramirez in November after he considered free agency.
Zambrano recently requested $15.5 million in arbitration. The Cubs offered $11.025 million, a sizable gap that could lead to an arbitration hearing Feb. 20.
Asked at the Cubs Convention about his upcoming free agency, Zambrano repeatedly said "This is a business" and that Zito's seven-year, $126 million deal helped raise his market value.
As the Cubs' most valuable pitcher, Zambrano can make the Cubs squirm. He apparently intends to do just that.
"When you're a great pitcher and have talent, you deserve the money no matter who gives it to you," he said. "Zito is a great pitcher. Good for him he has that contract, and I think that will help me.
"[Cubs general manager] Jim [Hendry] spent a lot of money. I hope he has more for 'Big Z.'" firstname.lastname@example.org