Wait! The Cubs SHOULD Have Money to Spend!


The Cubs should have more money to spend than every thinks at the moment. Yes Tom Ricketts has been quoted as saying the payroll will be lower in 2011 than it was last year. But follow along with me for a moment. As former 670 The Score voice and fellow Cub fan Mike Murphy used to say, let’s do some back of the envelope math here.

Ted Lilly was traded in July. His 2010 salary was $13 million. When comparing the team salary from 2010 to 2011, his $13 is now “off the books”. A starting pitcher is on the wish list of the Cubs this season. Let’s use rumored target Jon Garland as an example. He just turned down his player option of $6.5 million with the Padres the other day, and so it would be assumed that he is looking for a little more than that in a multi-year deal. For the sake of example, let’s say Garland’s can be had for $8 million a year for two years. For the 2011 team payroll, the Cubs just “saved” $5 million by plugging Garland into Lilly’s old rotation spot.

Derrick Lee made $13.25 million in 2010. Again, this salary is “off the books” for 2011. The consistent rumor is that the Cubs are considering Adam Dunn. He earned $12 million with Washington last season and that would make signing him inconsistent with Ricketts quote of planning to trim the payroll from 2010 to 2011. It is no secret that signing Dunn must coincide with trading away Kosuke Fukudome to help make space on the payroll. But for arguments sake, let’s say that Dunn agrees to sign at $12 million again for 2011 (and maybe a back loaded contract with an increase to $14 million annually for 2012 and 2013, as Jim Hendry likes to do). That is still a “savings” of $1.25 million.

But hopefully the more likely scenario is that the Cubs go after a more economic option as the temporary fix at first base. One option the Cubs should consider is Victor Martinez. He is a more well balanced offensive bat than Dunn and would realistically only command $8 to $10 million dollars for possibly two years (instead of the three year deal Dunn may be seeking).

Then there are even more pocket friendly players like Aubrey Huff (possibly at $5 million a year) or Lyle Overbay (possibly at $5 million a year) that have also been linked with the Cubs.

Are you still with me on the math here? The sans Dunn options could provide the Cubs with “savings” between $5 to $8 million between 2010 and 2011. Combined with the $5 million saved in the starting rotation, we are looking at between $10 to $13 million in payroll trimmed, which is about what the early reports were in terms of the numbers the Ricketts were looking to save.

Now I know these numbers are all arbitrary and hinge completely on what the players used in the examples above end up signing for, but you get the idea that there is in fact money that could be spent even before Hendry tries to repeat his magic trick act and have another team take Fukudome’s contract in similar fashion to how he got the Mariners to take Milton Bradley.

With the free agency period officially starting Sunday morning, it will be interesting to see how Hendry will allocate the funds that he technically should have, despite the budget trimming mandates, on the areas of need on the Cubs roster.

Hopefully the unusual 60 degree temperatures in Chicago on the opening day of the off season is indeed a good sign of a warm Hot Stove for Cub fans this winter.