By waiting until after the season to work out an extension for third baseman Aramis Ramirez, the Cubs probably cost themselves millions of dollars. Luckily, they still got him for less than the going rate in the end.
"Talks have yet to begin on Zambrano’s extension, and probably won’t get serious until the start of spring training if the past is any indication."
While some feel that Zambrano’s price rose to over $100 million because of recent free agent signings, I would counter that it was $100 million all along. Compare Zambrano to Barry Zito as the Tribune did.
1. Zambrano is a full three years younger than Zito.
2. Zito has six straight seasons of 200+ innings; Zambrano has four.
3. In their careers, Zambrano has been tougher to hit, better at home run prevention, and has a significantly better strikeout rate.
4. In peripheral stats, Zito’s only advantage is mildly better control.
Say for the sake of argument that Zito gets six years, $100MM. In my mind that makes Zambrano in line for at least a seven year, $130MM deal. That would be $18.5MM annually. Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald even suggests Zambrano could be a $20MM player.
Perhaps the Cubs should move to sign Zambrano before Zito signs, as Zito’s contract could be a point of reference for agent Barry Praver. At least Jim Hendry can be relieved that Zambrano fired Scott Boras at the beginning of this year.