(Zambrano 2007 = $12.4 mil.  Kerry Wood 2006 = $12 mil.  Suddenly Big Z getting $24 million sounds fair.)

Obviously appreciating that Big Z doesn’t have a hot tub or yo-yo “dieting” issues, Jim Hendry signed the man he calls “our best pitcher” to just under double what he made last year. As the Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat points out, the deal was closed before Hendry and agent Barry Praver actually entered the hotel room at the Phoenix Hyatt, meaning who would’ve fucked who is now a moot point.

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs and Carlos Zambrano reached agreement on a one-year, $12.4 million contract Tuesday, avoiding a showdown just a few steps before the scheduled arbitration hearing.

The deal is the largest single-season award ever given to a Cubs pitcher, topping Kerry Wood’s 2006 salary of $12 million, and continues the team’s large offseason spending spree.

Cubs general manager Jim Hendry and Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, were walking toward the hearing room in the Phoenix Hyatt, and decided they were close enough to skip the session, which was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. MST.

“We hadn’t walked actually in [the room] yet, but we were getting close to it,” Praver said.

“Barry and I agreed, they couldn’t start without us,” Hendry said.