I have the distinct feeling that the cubs and Z come to terms with along term deal before opening day. As its stated today in the papers and on the Internet the cubs want to sign a 5year deal with Z. And Z has came out and said he wanted a 5 year deal.So the only issue is the money. Z wants a deal around 90 mill for 5 years and the cubs want to sign him to a deal like Carpenter and Oswalt got around 65-75 million over 5 seasons. Knowing at least the cubs and Z are in agreement in years is great and knowing the only thing holding them back is possibly incentives and about 35-25 mill is encouraging.
Zambrano has interesting situation. He could sign a deal now and if he falters or gets injured he financially stable and doesn't risk getting shafted in the market. He could also pitch the season, risk getting hurt or having a bad year and lose alot of money in the free agent market. Or he could have a breakout year, win 20 games and collect a 5-7 year deal worth 90-130 million.
Here is why I think Z will sign before opening day-
1. Considering the cubs and Z are only 25-35 million apart for 5 years says that tremendous progress being made and they basically have half the contract done with that agreement on the amount of years.
2. I think Big Z will sign a contract by opening day for the mere fact you wanna be granted money for the next 5 years. If he does get injured and doesn't sign a contract by opening day he risked losing millions whether he stays with the cubs or goes else where.
3. The Cubs want to lock up Carlos because they don't have a proven #1 starter in the organization. By not sighing him opening day you risk losing him after a great season because he is tempted by $$. You don't want to spend all that money for a winning program and then lose your ace the next season.
4. Carlos wants to stay with the cubs and the cubs want him to stay. There is no hidden agenda here. If they both want to stay here then they will make it happen sooner than later.
5. I personally think they already have been working on a deal. I feel that upon Z agent agree to a 1 year deal there was a condition. I think that condition is that Z is signed to a long term deal before opening day and that his salary be increased if he agreed to sign for 12.4 million for one year (which is below the midpoint). Why else would it have gone so close to hearing before they made a deal. I just have a gut feeling there was a stipulation before him and his agent agreed on that 12.4 million dollar contact.
In the end and by Opening Day or sooner the cubs will announce that they have signed Carlos Zambrano to a 5 year( with a mutual option for 6th) 83 million dollar contract. It will be back loaded like all the contracts signed this year and he will make around 13 million the first year of the 5 years and it goes up from there. 07-13m, 08-15m, 09-17m, 10-19m, 11-21m. With his mutual option not added to the contract of 22 million for 2012.
That's my Bold Prediction