Zambrano heads large contingent seeking big hikes


NEW YORK (AP) – Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano asked for a raise to $15.5 million while batting champions Joe Mauer and Freddy Sanchez also sought big hikes in salary arbitration Tuesday.

AL MVP Justin Morneau and Florida star Miguel Cabrera looked to cash in, too, as 56 players exchanged figures with their teams.

Zambrano, who went 16-7 for the Cubs last year and made $6.65 million, was offered $11,025,000 by Chicago. Both his request and the club’s offer were the highest numbers traded this year.

Cabrera, eligible for arbitration for the first time, asked for a raise from $472,000 to $7.4 million and was offered $6.7 million by the Marlins. The three-time All-Star hit .339 with 26 homers and 114 RBIs last year, his third straight season with more than 110 RBIs.

Mauer, who hit .347 to become the first catcher to win the AL batting title, requested a raise from $400,000 to $4.5 million, and the Minnesota Twins offered $3.3 million.

Morneau, who batted .321 with 34 homers and 130 RBIs, asked the Twins for a raise from $385,000 to $5 million. He was offered $4 million.

Sanchez hit .344 for Pittsburgh to win his first batting crown and asked the Pirates to increase his salary from $342,000 to $3.1 million. Pittsburgh offered him $2.15 million. If players and teams don’t settle, three-person arbitration panels will select their salaries next month. Management won four of six cases that went to hearings last year and leads players 269-200 since arbitration began in 1974.

Overall, players in arbitration averaged a 109 percent increase last year.

Fifty players settled before the exchange, including 40 on Tuesday.

Among those reaching agreements were Los Angeles Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez ($7 million), Houston reliever Brad Lidge ($5.35 million), Detroit outfielder Craig Monroe ($4,775,000), Chicago White Sox third baseman Joe Crede ($4.94 million), Colorado outfielder Matt Holliday ($4.4 million), Philadelphia center fielder Aaron Rowand ($4.35 million), Texas outfielder Brad Wilkerson ($4.35 million) and Oakland outfielder Milton Bradley ($4 million).

Zambrano’s $4,475,000 gap was the largest, followed by Arizona and left-hander Doug Davis at $2.25 million. The smallest difference was $90,000 between outfielder Alex Escobar ($590,000) and Washington ($50,000), a case that likely would cost more to take to a hearing than the difference between the sides.

Washington had a big difference with right-hander John Patterson, who was offered $850,000 and asked for more than twice at much at $1.85 million. Patterson was 1-2 with a 4.43 ERA in eight starts last year. He missed much of the season because of a strained right forearm.

AP-ES-01-16-07 1818EST