Chicago Cubs: Tom Ricketts can silence critics if he spends big this winter

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

No matter how you choose to perceive Tom Ricketts’ recent comments on the budget and intentions of spending this winter regarding the free agency class, it’s understandable in any right. If you believe the Chicago Cubs will continue to seek out the middle of the pack, high potential/upside for low cost players, one couldn’t exactly judge you. However, there is room for the optimistic mind to enter this conversation, as well.

Nearly a month ago, going into the last week of the season, a report came out detailing the Cubs’ plans to be “really active” in free agency. This is kind of where I believe everybody started to roll their eyes and just assumed that to mean either the front office will pursue a quantity over quality course of action, as has been the case recently, or they will be in on a handful of players and be outbid so they can try to save face with the fans and say they tried their best. As time goes on, there is more of a rumbling that something big could be upon us.

A week ago, a report from Bleacher Nation came out with Ricketts stating the Cubs have the resources to compete in 2022 and they will use them. Furthermore, even more recently, rumors began to swirl that the Cubs are now doing their homework on the “elite” shortstop market. These guys include Corey Seager, Trevor Story and Carlos Correa to name a few.

Make no mistake, though. Acquiring an elite talent of the Correa caliber will not be easy. What does Chicago have going for it? More payroll flexibility than we’ve seen in several years. When you look at the current roster and consider the fire sale we saw mid-season, the Cubs have nearly $80 million coming off the books.

A lot of times, when you trade away your players, especially your fan favorite core, all that is looked at is the return you get – the prospects in which you acquire for having your heart ripped out of your chest. However, thinking more clearly as these wounds begin to heal, it may just be the the copious amount of funds that have been made available that plays the role of the unsung hero in all the trade deadline deals that were made this season.

Chicago Cubs: Tom Ricketts now has to back up his words with major moves

Of course, some of that newly available money will going toward arbitration-eligible players in line for a raise. Most, however, will be able to be dumped back into the spending pot, as Ricketts himself has said in the past is what happens when funds become available.

As an owner, or front office representative, you wont just come out and say exactly what your plans are regarding making your team competetive again. There’s too much homework and research to do in an offseason to simply circle one guy and let the whole world know that he’s your #1 target. Every free agent is potentially a target if the shoe fits. Ricketts even announcing that he plans to spend will put the rest of the owners on notice. You want to keep as much of an element of surprise as possible here.

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“The resources to be competitive in 2022 – and we will use them” is an extremely bold statement from Ricketts. There is little room for words such as these to be shrouded in mystery much longer. Among the elite shortstop rumors on top of that, it has become clear: the Chicago Cubs are going to spend big this winter.