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Chicago Cubs 2011 Salary/Payroll Analysis

Last week, during a discussion of what the Cubs' payroll will be for next season, someone asked if I'd do a post that sums up what the issues are in signing free agents for next year.

We know that Tom Ricketts has said that the Cubs' overall spending on baseball operations will be approximately the same as it was in 2010 -- $145 million. It was implied, however, that some of that money would be reallocated to other parts of the organization besides the major league payroll -- scouting, the minor league draft, etc.

We don't know exactly what that allocation will be, but a further implication was that the major league payroll would decline slightly. Here's a list of 2010 Opening Day team payrolls, on which the Cubs ranked at the top of NL teams and third to the Red Sox and Yankees at $146,609,000. The Phillies were second in the NL at $141,928,379, the Mets third at $134,422,942, and the World Series champion Giants a distant fourth in the National League at $98,641,333.

Clearly, among NL teams, the Giants and Phillies got their money's worth and the Cubs and Mets did not. Overall in MLB, the eight playoff teams ranked 1st (Yankees), 4th (Phillies), 9th (Giants), 10th (Twins), 15th (Braves), 19th (Rays), 20th (Reds) and 26th (Rangers) in payroll.

Thus it's not simply spending money, it's spending it wisely, that can make you a winner. We've been over and over and over the Cubs' backloaded deals that are coming back to bite them now -- that isn't the purpose of this post, so let's not belabor that issue, please. It's also not a bitch session about what player is or isn't worth what they're getting. The salaries are what they are, unless Jim Hendry can creatively move some of them.

The purpose is to show how the Cubs can creatively spend $135 million -- let's assume for now that's the number, although I am simply speculating with no inside info -- given the fact they already have more than $102 million committed to nine players for 2011. Follow me past the jump for the numbers.

The 2011 Cubs already have the following players under contract, veterans on multiyear deals (all numbers from this Cot's Baseball Contracts spreadsheet:

Alfonso Soriano, $19,000,000
Carlos Zambrano, $18,875,000
Aramis Ramirez, $14,600,000
Kosuke Fukudome, $14,500,000
Ryan Dempster, $14,500,000
Carlos Silva, $12,750,000
Marlon Byrd, $5,500,000
Jeff Samardzija, $3,500,000
John Grabow, $4,800,000

All of these numbers include pro-rated portions of signing bonuses. After subtracting $5,500,000 -- that's what the Mariners are paying for part of Carlos Silva's deal -- that leaves us with $102,525,000 for nine players; at the moment, it doesn't look like any of them are going anywhere. If the Cubs could move Fukudome and even save half of his deal, that'd be $6.75 million that could be spent elsewhere. For now, assume these players are all staying.

So of our presumed $135,000,000, we have $32,475,000 left for 16 more players on the 25-man Opening Day roster. It sounds like a lot, until you consider that three key players who will all be retained are arbitration-eligible and all had very good years in 2010: Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto and Sean Marshall.

Marmol made $2,125,000, Marshall $975,000 and Soto $575,000 in 2010. All three players could be signed to multi-year deals this offseason -- more likely Soto and Marmol than Marshall, but in any case, all three are up for substantial raises through the arb process.

It seems likely that Marmol would be in line for a raise to be comparable in salary to what the Red Sox' Jonathan Papelbon made in 2009, his first arb-eligible season -- $6.125 million. Soto, roughly comparable to Brian McCann in 2007-2008; acknowledging it's four years later, we'll put it closer to the 2008 number, $5.5 million. For Marshall, it's tougher to make a comp, but assume he's in line to at least double, maybe a little bit more, so let's call it $2.5 million.

So that's another $14,125,000 for three players, bringing our total to $116,650,000 and leaving only $18,350,000 for the 13 players we still need to fill out the 25-man roster.

Four other 2010 Cubs are (were) arb-eligible for 2011: Angel Guzman, Tom Gorzelanny, Koyie Hill and Jeff Baker. Baker could be non-tendered; Guzman is out of the mix because he was outrighted and invited to spring training on a minor league deal. That leaves Hill; I have no idea what the Cubs will do with him. He made $700,000 last year, and even with a mediocre year, players usually get arb raises with service time; he could be on the hook for $1 million. I'd let him go. Gorzelanny made $800,000 last year and produced and almost certainly will be retained; it's his second arb-eligible season so he could get an increase to, say, $1.75 million. Adding Gorz to our number, we now have $118,400,000 for 13 players, which includes:

Four starting pitchers (Zambrano, Gorzelanny, Dempster, Silva)
Three outfielders (Soriano, Byrd, Fukudome)
A catcher (Soto)
Four relief pitchers (Marmol, Marshall, Grabow, Samardzija)
One infielder (Ramirez)

To fill out even a starting team, we need Starlin Castro and Blake DeWitt back -- they'll be renewed at either the minimum or slightly more. Let's call that $500,000 each; the Cubs also will renew Randy Wells, probably at about $700,000. Darwin Barney will be the Cubs' primary backup middle infielder at $400,000; Andrew Cashner comes back to the bullpen; he and Tyler Colvin should both get small raises to probably somewhere around $425,000.

We now have 18 players under contract for $121,325,000. So that leaves $14,675,000 for the other seven.

At $12 million a year -- his presumed price -- that doesn't leave enough room to sign Adam Dunn, unless you move Fukudome or Silva. At about $6 million a year, the Cubs could add Adam LaRoche and still have room to add a veteran reliever -- Kerry Wood would fit very well into that niche, as I have stated before. To get a veteran pitcher to fill the last slot in the rotation, Jon Garland or Javier Vazquez could fit well. The remainder of the roster could be filled with minimum-wage guys like James Russell, Justin Berg, or non-roster invitees or non-tenders from other teams.