Building out the Cubs with a strict $150 million payroll

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

One hundred-fifth million dollars is a whole lot of money. I don’t think anyone would dispute that, a huge, mind-boggling load of plenty… but it might as well be Monopoly money for the armchair general managers of the baseball world.

Phil Rogers had a few thoughts about that number in a recent article, and we’re going to proceed more or less along those lines — the premise being that the Cubs have a $150 million payroll and the desire to spend to the limit.

Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, or the shortstop du jour becomes a real possibility, and the Cubs could still take on salary for another starter, and a useful bat or two. I’d be for some combination of Kyle Schwarber, a velocity arm and Correa/Story if they could be made to fit. The Cubs desperately need a lefty slugger, and depending on the results of the CBA tug-of-war, may well need a DH-type player, as well. Schwarber is the best available to fill those slots and isn’t really expensive in baseball terms, looking for $60 million over three years, according to reports.

The Cubs know who and what Schwarber is, and probably should have held onto him. But they got ‘poor’ and couldn’t do the necessary, so off he went to post a .266/.374/.554/.928 slash with a 148 OPS+ for two different teams, smacking 32 home runs in the process.

Obvious Cub candidate Danny Duffy is out of the picture given he won’t be ready to pitch until June or July, so we’ll look at Carlos Rodon, definitely a high-risk sort of player given that he faded down the stretch in 2021, but an intriguing piece nonetheless with the sort of velocity the Cubs need in the rotation and a lefty arm, to boot.

His 13-5 record to go along with 195 strikeouts in 132 innings, would look real nice in Cubbie blue, should he continue to take the ball at that clip. I’m just sayin’. His 42-38 lifetime with the White Sox looks reasonable. He’s reportedly looking for approximately the same money as Schwarber, around $20 million annually.

There are plenty of ways the Cubs can improve with a $150 million payroll

Spotrac has the Cubs’ payroll right now at $98,110,000.

So, with the addition of Schwarber/Rodon, we’ve made it $138 million and change. That probably doesn’t allow for Correa, but is realistic considering the Cubs’ needs. It sure would be nice to remove Jason Heyward’s contract from the payroll but I don’t know who would want him. Story’s salary demands probably fall in the same range as Schwarber/Rodon, and Correa is looking at anywhere from $30-40 million per annum.

So the squad would field Nico Hoerner/Nick Madrigal up the middle. I’m not as averse to that as some. The only knock I have on Hoerner is his ability to stay on the field. His Gold Glove-quality defense at second would translate, I think, at least to competence at short. The Cubs’ staff would need him to field a lot of ground balls and I suspect he’s able.

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I’d spend the rest on extra parts. Archie Bradley would be a decent get for the pen. I’d consider Vince Velasquez. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs make overtures once again to Joc Pederson. Keone Kela would be worth looking at. There’s really not much in free agency if you’re looking long-term, as most of the players are on the wrong side of 30.