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02/11/06 1:48 PM ET

Zambrano agrees to one-year contract

Right-hander avoids arbitration, will earn $6.5 million in 2006

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs wrapped up their final arbitration case on Saturday and signed pitcher Carlos Zambrano to a one-year, $6.5 million contract.

Zambrano, 24, got a significant raise. He made $3.76 million last season when he led the Cubs with 14 wins. Zambrano established career highs in starts (33), innings pitched (223 1/3) and strikeouts (202). The right-hander had asked for $7.2 million, while the Cubs countered with an offer of $6 million.

The Cubs had five players who were arbitration-eligible -- Zambrano, Mark Prior, Juan Pierre, Will Ohman and Jerry Hairston Jr. -- and were able to reach agreement with all five without needing a hearing. Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and team president Andy MacPhail have never gone to arbitration with a player.

Zambrano, who will likely pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, was expected to report with the rest of the Cubs pitchers and catchers on Wednesday in Mesa, Ariz., for the start of Spring Training.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.