Chicago Cubs News: Tom Ricketts addresses stance regarding luxury tax

Oct 2, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, right, talks with manager
Oct 2, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts, right, talks with manager / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

During the first day of the Chicago Cubs full squad workouts at Spring Training on Monday, team chairman Tom Ricketts addressed reporters. Among the topics discussed was whether or not the Cubs would be willing to go over the luxury tax threshold.

The Cubs have spent over $300MM in free agency this offseason but remain approximately $8MM below the luxury tax threshold of $233MM for the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season. At the Cubs' convention last month, Ricketts seemingly spoke out against the excessive spending that Major League Baseball had seen this past offseason from teams such as the New York Mets and San Diego Padres. While addressing reporters from Spring Training on Monday, Ricketts clarified his stance.

"‘‘You want to be careful going over the CBT because there are penalties,’’ Ricketts said on the first day of full-squad workouts Monday. ‘‘Some of the penalties are merely financial, but over time they become draft-pick slots and those kinds of things. So you want to be thoughtful about it, and you want to just be alert and manage around it if you can. If we’re midseason and we need a player, we’ll do what we have to do then.’’"

Tom Ricketts via Chicago Sun-Times

As an operating procedure, the Cubs have liked to leave themselves with financial space in-season to make a move at the trade deadline without surpassing the luxury tax threshold. Given how spending has trended across Major League Baseball, though, there is going to be a time when the Cubs will need to show a willingness to go into the luxury tax and set the market for top-end free agents. Ricketts understands that need and did not speak against that idea.

"‘‘If we see an opportunity or it’s the right time to go over for a year or two, we’ll have the ability to do that,’’ Ricketts said. ‘‘But we’ll manage that year to year. I’m not gonna promise top five or anything like that. But we will definitely put the resources we have on the field.’’"

Tom Ricketts via Chicago Sun-Times

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To summarize, do not expect the Cubs to mirror the spending that we saw this past offseason from the Mets or in recent seasons from the Padres. There is no question that the Cubs can win with the ideology that has seen the Cleveland Guardians and Tampa Bay Rays remain in consistent contention for several seasons. The issue is that the Cubs do not have to use that ideology as their crutch. The Cubs need to show a willingness at some point to set the free-agent market. They showed that willingness in 2015 with starting pitcher Jon Lester and in 2016 with the signing of outfielder Jason Heyward and immediately won a World Series the following season. Until the Cubs have that willingness again, they will always remain a team that needs "ifs" to become reality in order to contend.