The 19-year-old has started to establish himself in the Hammers' defence with some impressive performances and helped keep Chelsea out in the 0-0 draw on Sunday.
There have been reports that Rice has rejected a new contract, but Zabaleta believes he has a great Hammers career ahead of him.
"Declan is young, he still has room for improvement for sure, but you can see he has the right attitude and ability to be become one of the greatest players for West Ham," the Argentinian told the club's official website.
"He looks so mature and he has proven week in, week out that he can perform for the team, so as a team-mate for me he is one of those young players that you like to look after and all the information I can give to him I will.
"We don't need to put so much pressure on him now, we need to help him to keep improving. It's step by step and then let's see how far he can go as a player."
Whether Rice plays against Macclesfield in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night remains to be seen.
Boss Manuel Pellegrini could make plenty of changes against the League Two side.
Javier Hernandez could return after struggling with flu, while the likes of Lucas Perez, Carlos Sanchez, Adrian and Aaron Cresswell could start.
Marko Arnautovic will not be risked as he battles a knee injury, while Jack Wilshere (ankle) is sidelined after surgery. Andy Carroll, Manuel Lanzini and Winston Reid remain long-term absentees.