Sunday, April 1, 2007

Cubs, Zambrano real close to deal

An unconfirmed source reported that ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano is close to signing a five-year deal with the Cubs. Though currently under a one-year deal that would pay Zambrano $12.4 million, the new deal would take precedence.

Zambrano, who tied for the league lead in wins last year, had initially issued an Opening Day deadline for a long-term deal to be made. However, with Opening Day nearing closer and closer and the deal almost finalized, Zambrano has decided to give the team a few extra days.

Initially, it was believed that Zambrano wanted a deal similar to what Barry Zito earned this off-season: $126 million over seven years. Instead, his desire to work out a deal and stay with the Cubs have his agent and the team discussing a five-year deal worth around $80 million.

The pitching staff would be in trouble if Zambrano would leave the club after 2007, as that leaves Hill, Marquis, and Lilly on the team with a slim free-agent market for pitchers next off-season.

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