Cubs Sign Carlos Zambrano To Extension
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have inked Carlos Zambrano to a five-year, $91.5MM contract extension. The deal also has a $19.25MM player option for a sixth year, so you might as well call it 6/111.
By waiting, the Cubs cost themselves at least $11.5MM. It's unclear as to whether the original 5/80 deal Zambrano almost signed had a player option. The new contract carries Zambrano through his age 31 season.
This is a home team discount, but $18.3MM annually guaranteed is still pretty hefty. The discount is that the Cubs are on the hook for five or six years instead of seven or eight. And sure, Z probably could've gotten $20MM on the open market. The deal would look a lot better for the Cubs if the 2013 option was the club's. As a player option, Zambrano will basically only exercise it if he's in bad shape.
I've been back and forth on my opinion of a huge Zambrano extension, kind of like the pitcher's up and down season. Part of me says that the Cubs got a slight discount, Zambrano's been an injury-free horse, and he'll still be pretty young throughout the deal. The other side of me says that his best years are behind him, he's got a ton of mileage on his arm, and almost no free agent pitcher deal of this magnitude could possibly work out. I think you could make a legitimate case for either side - sorry for the cop out.
The free agent pitcher market is significantly worse for Zambrano's absence. The best option now appears to be Curt Schilling on a short-term deal, if you can get him.
Better now than never for the Cubs and Z to agree. I think this contract is a huge discount for the Cubs. With Z's rough start and yet he is still in line to win 18 games or more is beyond incredible. Zambrano was looking at 5 to 8 year deals worth 20-30 million a year on the open market( especially with teams like the Mets, Red Sox, and Yanks going after him). Now we can stop reading columns about " Zambrano would like it in NY" and " Zambrano will be the biggest FA on the market". Thank go we wont here that anymore! And teams in New York can finally talk about something besides all the money there are going to throw at Big Z. Big Z is a Cub and Im damn happy he is!