Thursday, February 15, 2007

Zambrano issues ultimatum, Ryu traded

As pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training (already?), the Chicago Cubs traded pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for minor leaguers Andy Lopez and Greg Reinhard.

Ryu posted an 8-8 record with a 3.23 ERA in 23 starts for Iowa (AAA) last year, despite struggling in 10 appearances with the major league club. In all, Ryu has a 36-28 record with a 3.42 ERA in 6 years with 6 different minor league teams within the Cubs organization. Lopez hit .256 with Princeton (R), while Reinhard posted a 6-10 record and a 4.50 ERA with Southwest Michigan (low-A). Ryu is expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

The bigger news involving the Chicago Cubs, however, is the ultimatum that ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano issued. Zambrano and the team are currently set to undergo an arbitration hearing on February 20 if the two sides can not agree on a salary for the 2007 season. Of more importance, though, is the fact that Zambrano has stated if he isn't signed to a multi-year deal by February 20, he would not be a Cub in the 2008 season.

Zambrano, who tied for the league lead in wins last year, is believed to be wanting a contract similar to the one that Barry Zito received this past off-season, 7 years for $126 million.

I personally feel that the Cubs should pay Zambrano exactly what he wants. We already signed Soriano to a $136 million contract for eight years and failing to keep Zambrano on the team would be a big mistake. Without Zambrano, the value of the team decreases severely, and signing Soriano becomes a waste.

If Zambrano wants a Zito-esque contract right now, give it to him! The fact of the matter is that Zambrano stands to make much more than that should he test the waters nine months from now. If the Cubs need more time to negotiate (they've already have plenty, though), the Cubs should offer a reasonable amount to sign Zambrano for the 2007 season. Failing to avoid arbitration and/or sign Zambrano to a multi-year deal by Opening Day, however, is unacceptable.

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