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Chicago Cubs, Zambrano Get Past Tribune Buyout Complications


The Chicago Cubs and Carlos Zambrano finally have a deal. The ace right-hander agreed Friday to a five-year, $91.5 million contract extension to stay with the only team he's been with his entire career.

Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano.
Morry Gash

The deal includes a vesting option for a sixth season.

Zambrano (14-9) had hoped to have a new deal in place by opening day. He extended the deadline but contract talks stalled after Tribune Co. , which owns the team, announced in April that it was selling itself for $8.2 billion to Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell. The Cubs are expected to go on the auction block at the end of the season.

About 15 parties have shown interest in the perennially losing but storied franchise, which is expected to attract more than $1 billion. Not only the Cubs, but the team's landmark Wrigley Field and an interest in sports cable network SportsNet Chicago could be sold as one package or split up, according to reports.

The 26-year-old Zambrano acknowledged the pending sale of the team had complicated negotiations but said last month he wanted to stay with the Cubs.

Just Being Good's Not Enough

Zambrano said he's not completely satisfied and won't be until he helps the Cubs make the World Series.

"I feel happy right now, feel comfortable right now but it's not enough," Zambrano said at news conference. "I have a mission to complete and I have a way to go with my teammates to lead this team. ... It's not enough when you retire and don't have the ring."

Zambrano, who signed a one-year, $12.4 million deal during spring training, could have been a free agent after the season. A two-time All-Star, he has a 78-51 career record.

The emotional Zambrano hasn't looked like the Cubs' ace in his previous three starts, failing each time to earn his 15th victory.

He left an outing against the New York Mets in the sixth inning with heat-related cramping and was driven out by Houston in his next start after giving up seven runs in 5 1-3 innings.

On Tuesday night, he allowed 13 hits and six runs in seven innings with two walks and no strikeouts against the Cincinnati Reds.

He's had an eventful season, getting into a fight with catcher Michael Barrett and breaking a bat over his knee. Against the Reds, he got so angry after grounding out, he slammed his helmet to the ground and it bounced all the way into right field.

His familiar antics on the mound include pumping his fist after getting an out.

In one game, he did a complete spin in front of the mound.