The Chicago Cubs are sending a message to the rest of the league


Three players, 14 years and $272 million later, the Chicago Cubs have solidified themselves as the favorite in 2016….at least on paper.

The signings of Jason Heyward, John Lackey, and Ben Zobrist sent shockwaves through the league and it’s scary to think that a team that won 97 games a year ago just improved dramatically.

For Lackey (37) and Zobrist (34), a stint on the Northside may be the end of the line. Given how inflated the market has become for free agents in recent years, the $32 million owed to Lackey over two years seems quite reasonable.

Mix in the fact that Zobrist declined more money from other suitors to be a Cub speaks volumes about the allure this team has again.

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Ben Zobrist spoke openly during his introductory press conference about the lasting impression winning a championship here would bring. Players see the significance in a Cubs World Series and many are jumping at the chance to put their names in the history books.

Winning aside, the improving facilities have been an attractive bargaining chip as well. By the start of next season, the Cubs should have access to their new clubhouse. That’s right, a new clubhouse. These guys no longer will suffer in the coat closet they have called home for the last 100 years.

For the aging veterans like Zobrist and Lackey, the need for updated amenities is just as important as winning. Weight rooms, film rooms, and a training room that is more suitable to heal the aches and pains of a long regular season.

By the start of the next decade, Wrigley Field and the neighborhood around it will be one of the top places to visit every year.

Jason Heyward, who according to Cardinal fans, is doing his best Darth Vader impression by going to the dark side.

Despite offers from both the Cardinals and Nationals that were reportedly north of $200 million, Heyward took less money to join the Cubs as well. An 8-year, $184 million contract sets him up as yet another star player on this roster who is entering his prime years.

Perhaps the thought of bringing a championship to the Cubs swayed him, or perhaps it is the fact that his contract allows him to maximize his value while providing the Cubs some flexibility. Heyward has not one, but two opt-out clauses in this deal.

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The first comes after three years and the second after the fourth year. If the Cubs can win it all in the next three years, Heyward can re-enter the market at just 29 years old and could demand the world because of the outcome here.

The contract is front-loaded, which the Cubs are willing to live with assuming the end goal can be reached. Given the length of these three contracts, let’s consider the championship window open for the next four years.

To the average fan, keep in mind that this kind of moves does come at a price. Free agents at the level of Lackey and Heyward carry compensation to the teams that lose them. With that being said, the Cubs have relinquished two draft picks to the St. Louis Cardinals by signing them.

All in, the Cardinals now hold four of the first 50 picks in this year’s draft. So while the Cubs just got better on the field, the Cardinals have a chance to stockpile the talent as well.

Chicago Cubs baseball just got a whole lot more interesting moving into the next year. Spring Training can’t get here soon enough. The pieces are in place and the target is firmly on their backs.

The 2016 Chicago Cubs have a lot of expectations mounting, but they have the right influences to conquer them.