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Zambrano, Cubs deftly avoid arbitration

Fish4Life

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MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs and Carlos Zambrano reached agreement Tuesday on a one-year, $12.4 million contract and avoided arbitration.

The Cubs had hoped to settle before a 2 p.m. MST hearing at the Phoenix Hyatt. On Feb. 15, the Minnesota Twins and Michael Cuddyer settled on a one-year deal minutes before his arbitration hearing began.

Zambrano, 25, who made $6.5 million last year, was seeking $15.5 million. The Cubs countered with an offer of $11.025 million before the deal was reached.

The right-hander posted a 16-7 record and 3.41 ERA in 33 starts last season, matching his career high in wins. Cubs manager Lou Piniella has named Big Z his Opening Day starter.

"I would say it's 85 to 90 percent that we don't go to arbitration," Zambrano said Monday. "We'll see it on the news [Tuesday]morning hopefully."

Instead, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry left the Fitch Park complex for the hearing. Hendry did talk to Zambrano on the field before leaving.

Piniella hoped the two sides would settle. Piniella went to arbitration in 1988 with third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, and didn't enjoy the process. Pagliarulo requested a $175,000 raise to $625,000, and the Yankees had countered with an offer of $500,000. The Yankees won.

"I felt a little uncomfortable in there, to be honest," Piniella said. "It got a little combative, too.

"Let's hope this thing with Zambrano, the case doesn't go, and they settle right at the end and eveybody's happy," Piniella said.

Zambrano said he hasn't lost any sleep over the negotiations.

"One time I told my agent, two years ago, 'I do my job and you do your job,'" Zambrano said. "It's in my agents' hands and Jim Hendry's hands."

Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez had no advice for Zambrano.

"He's a great pitcher, he's one of the best pitchers in the National League," Ramirez said. "I don't know what his situation is -- I just got here. Whatever money he gets, he deserves. He's pitching for you every five days. He doesn't miss a start and he can hit also."

The Cubs have gone to arbitration five times, and are 3-2. In 1980, Bruce Sutter sought $700,000 and the Cubs offered $350,000. Sutter won that case. In 1985, Leon Durham asked for $1.1 million and the Cubs offered $800,000. The Cubs won.

In 1988, Andre Dawson asked for $2 million and the Cubs offered $1.85 million. The arbitrator ruled in favor of the Cubs. In 1990, Shawon Dunston asked for $1.25 million and the team countered at $925,000. Dunston won. The Cubs won in 1993 when Mark Grace filed for $4.1 million and the Cubs offered $3.1 million.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
 

FreshFish

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Zambrano is going to make a lot of dough once he hits FA. I would say he gets 15millions/year easy
 

MVPosey

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Zambrano is going to make a lot of dough once he hits FA. I would say he gets 15millions/year easy
15?
Try 20
at least
it's scary to think what Johan will make in two years
 

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