Zambrano says he'll walk if Cubs don't sign him

Carlos Zambrano has issued an ultimatum to the Chicago Cubs -- sign me now, or say goodbye when the 2007 season is over.

"If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."
-- Carlos Zambrano

"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," the Cubs' pitching ace said in an interview on WGN-TV. "If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."

He also thinks he should get paid -- a lot. 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.

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, according to the Tribune. "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, the newspaper reported.

Zambrano, who became the Cubs' staff ace when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior went down with injuries, went 16-7 with a 3.41 ERA in 2006. For his career he's 64- 42 with a 3.29 ERA in 977 innings.