Cubs Rumors: Tom Ricketts just gave Jed Hoyer more money to work with

(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) /

If you were caught off-guard by Friday morning’s signing of longtime Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, you’re not alone.

After spending next to nothing on payroll, the Chicago Cubs inked the slugging outfielder to a one-year, $7 million deal with a mutual option for 2022. Per Joel Sherman, that will keep the team’s financial commitment in 2021 relatively low. So how did Jed Hoyer pull off this deal? Apparently, he now has more resources at his disposal.

Now, this may prove to be ‘too little, too late’ given the Cubs already traded Yu Darvish and let Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Tyler Chatwood walk in free agency. Not to mention the non-tenders of Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora. That being said, there are still some options out there and if Hoyer can get creative, Chicago might be able to do enough to contend in a division that, as Kaplan notes, is ‘winnable’.

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Pederson looks like he’ll essentially be the poor man’s Schwarber. He’s got a power-centric approach and is far superior against righties than against lefties. But if we’re talking a few million bucks for improved defense and comparable offensive output, that should give Hoyer some money to put toward the team’s depleted starting rotation.

The Cubs are scouting two familiar faces today in Jake Arrieta and Jeff Samardzija. Neither is exactly front-of-the-rotation presence at this point, but either of them would represent a step up from the staff’s current makeup.

Cubs have been quiet for years now

For years, Chicago has ranked near the top of the league in terms of payroll. That being said, they’ve also essentially sat out any major free agents for the last three years, instead opting to make incremental upgrades, usually through minor league signings and reclamation projects.

Now, they’re up against it with Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant less than a year from free agency with Willson Contreras hot on their heels. We’ve heard the club will have to make a call when it comes to who to extend – and right now, Baez and Rizzo seem like the frontrunners in that department.

All winter, Bryant has been mentioned in trade speculation. Make no mistake about it. If the Cubs wind up trading the former NL MVP, it’s for one reason: saving $19.5 million in payroll. Hopefully, with the additional money at his disposal, Hoyer can piece this thing together to at least compete in what could be the worst division in baseball this year.