The "Big Z" issued his pay me or lose me ultimatum, but Cubs general manager Jim Hendry isn't panicking.
"I'm not concerned about that at all. In fact, I think when he gets here, he'll probably clear that up," Hendry said of Carlos Zambrano's contract talk, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. ''That wouldn't make much sense to take that stance. I think what he probably meant -- well, I'll let him speak for himself -- but what his agent has represented to me is that if we don't have something done by Opening Day, we'll table it for another time. That's the Carlos that I know, but I'll let him speak for himself. But [the ultimatum] would certainly be totally different than what I have been told."
Zambrano and the Cubs are currently due to go to salary arbitration Feb. 20, with Zambrano seeking $15.5 million and the Cubs offering $11.025 million.
"Whatever happens, I don't want to know [anything] about a contract during the season. I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts," Zambrano said in an interview on WGN-TV. "If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."
The Cubs spent lavishly during the offseason, forking over nearly $300 million to bring aboard Alfonso Soriano and Ted Lilly and re-sign Aramis Ramirez in an effort to turn around last year's NL-worst 66-96 record.
During the annual Cubs Convention, Zambrano, when asked whether he will test free agency next season, repeatedly said "This is a business" and noted that Barry Zito's seven-year, $126 million deal helped raise his value on the free-agent market.
"When you're a great pitcher and have talent, you deserve the money no matter who gives it to you," he said. "Zito is a great pitcher. Good for him he has that contract, and I think that will help me.
"[Cubs general manager] Jim [Hendry] spent a lot of money. I hope he has more for 'Big Z,'" he said.