Chicago Cubs: Signing Bryce Harper, Manny Machado could handicap team

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Cubs
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Chicago Cubs: Such signings could cripple the organization long-term

To this point, the Chicago Cubs have benefitted from a young position player core that has hardly cost anything financially. Those days won’t last forever – and we need to remember that.

In 2018, the trio of Bryant, Baez and Rizzo cost the Cubs just under $19 million. Total. That number will undoubtedly jump in 2019. Rizzo is due a $4 million raise, Bryant will get a small boost in arbitration – as will Baez, who goes through that process for the first time this winter.

That’s not to mention the money tied up in the starting rotation. Let’s assume the Cubs pick up the $20 million option to keep Cole Hamels next season. Between Hamels, Jon Lester, Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana (the projected starting rotation in this instance, not counting Kyle Hendricks, who is probably another $5 million-plus), Chicago will dole out a staggering $90.5 million to starting pitchers next year.

Add in the $27.5 million owed to Heyward and that brings the total up to $118 million. That doesn’t account for any other position players (including the Baez-Bryant-Rizzo trio) or any offseason acquisitions. Nor does it consider arbitration payouts or retaining any other guy on the 25-man.

Everyone is talking about $30 to $40 million AAV for Harper and Machado – potential $400 million contracts. Add something like that to the mix and you’re talking about north of $150 million tied up annually in seven players.

The competitive balance tax is as shown in the next three years:

2019: $206 million

2020: $208 million

2021: $210 million

So $150 million for the rotation, Heyward and Harper/Machado + $25 million for Baez, Bryant and Rizzo = $175 million. Can you field the rest of the roster on $30 million and change? No.

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Signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado might be the move that puts us over the top in the short-term. But it could very well have crippling financial consequences, leaving the Cubs short-handed in their efforts to stay competitive in the long-term.