With the signing of all the arbitration players except Carlos Marmol whose bid is now at $5.65M (to the Cubs $4.1M counter), along with estimated bonuses and signings of non arbitration eligible players plus a Reed Johnson the 25-man expected roster appears to be around $130M (or a drop of 10% or about $15M, per Sun Times) and a $5M cushion from the published $135M self-imposed budget limit. What does this foretell or indicate going forward?
The season should offer more opportunities for young players as in both Jacksons, maybe McNutt and maybe another dark horse or two?
Fine....what this season really offers is the retirement of 4 significant contracts and 3 others; Aramis Ramirez's $14.6M, the Carlos Silva's (nee Bradley's) $11.5M (minus $5.5M from SEA), Kosuke Fukudome's $13.5M, John Grabow's $4.8M and Jeff Samardzija's $2M. Add in annual stuff like Kerry Wood's $1.5M, Reed Johnson's expected $1M (+/-) All told that is $44-45M....
That would reduce the 2011 expected $130M payroll to $85M or so before any future FA efforts. The map appears obvious, removing liabilities to seek either Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez (if BOS screws up)---meaning they will have the money to play big while seeing what their farm system can produce.They could sign Pujols to $30M and still reduce payroll overall.
Looking forward following 2012 Cubs can retire Marlon Byrd ($6.5M), Carlos Pena ($5M), Ryan Dempster ($14M) and Carlos Zambrano ($18M) or another $43.5M or a total of $87-$88M in two years, leaving only Alfonso Soriano's $18M lump and of course producing system players in arbitration or multi year signings on the payroll through 2014.
What I am seeing is that the Cubs will probably continue to reduce payroll 10% per year as in this year going from $145 to $130M but adding a key player or two as free agents while bringing up the farm system players. Therefore next year look for payroll to be about $115-120M even with a big splash In 2013 they could even sign a big name front of the rotation starter and still drop payroll to $105-110M. And the same holds true for 2014, they find a way to relieve themselves of Soriano, still sign another needed player and drop the payroll to $100M, which is where I think the club is headed towards. The trick will be for the farm system to continue to produce players who ascend up to the big league club and contribute like Soto, Castro and Colvin. The big stars will still have to be acquired but hopefully not the entire roster.