We've looked at Cubs spending twice already this offseason. First, in the aftermath of the World Series, we checked in to see how the Cubs had spent over the past eight years and laid out their starting point for the 2015 payroll. Next, we looked at the payroll after the eventful Winter Meetings saw Jon Lester join the fold.
As an aside, at that time I asked whether you all would like to see the club spend their remaining cash on a veteran free agent, a veteran trade acquisition, or a handful of 16-year-olds. Of the 744 votes cast, the veteran free agent group won with a plurality of 41% while the other buckets received 30% and 29% of your votes, respectively. That poll, more than anything else, is a nice reminder that lots of passionate Cubs fans envision different ideal methodologies for building the best franchise.
Back to the financial picture. As you may recall, I break the spending down into four distinct categories: dead money, draft bonuses, international amateur bonuses/salaries, and 40-man roster salaries. You can check the first article linked above for further explanation for how I count the salaries and why, for example, I include a full MLB minimum salary for players on the 40-man who won't spend a day on the 25-man roster.
As has been the case all winter, the three categories of non-Chicago Cubs players remain largely unchanged with only the final category adjusted slightly upward to account for an estimate of international amateur bonuses south of $10,000:
|International Amateur Bonuses/Salaries||$3,864,625|
We've discussed the possibility that the international amateur number comes in at five or six times the projection. Many of us would jump for joy in that instance. Then again, our cash doesn't pay that penalty. Not directly, anyway.
The 40-man roster salary projection only somewhat resembles the list I put together back in early November. Back then, the Cubs' second-highest-paid player projected to be Starlin Castro at $6 million. Now? Well, let's check the list. And before you freak out about Kris Bryant being included, understand that I've included him all winter given the inevitability of his late April/early May call to join the big club.
|Player Name||Position||2015 Cast Outlay|
|Tommy La Stella||2B||$515,000|
That 40-man total certainly has grown.
When we combine all of the totals, provided no further moves this winter, the club figures to spend about $143,932,615 on player bonuses and salaries in 2015 across the four categories discussed hereinabove.
The last time that the Cubs were at this level of organization-wide spending was 2011 when a bloated 40-man payroll of nearly $138 million played some really poor baseball. The Ricketts Family-era high of $158.3 million in 2011 seems within reach should the club seek out a boisterous international amateur class this summer.
As we discussed in the previous update, incentive clauses may impact this number even further. Specifically, aggressive incentives for Jason Motte, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Chris Denorfia could add nearly $5 million to the payroll.
Assuming no further major moves and arbitration settlements near the amounts shown above for Fowler and Strop, this should be the total expenditures for 2015 following a busy, exhilarating winter for the Cubs braintrust.
Armed with that information, who do you all think and feel? Are you excited to see the Cubs push their spending back to big market levels? Are you frustrated that the spending isn't even higher? Do you feel misled by the front office's and ownership's claims over the past few years that the baseball budget was maxed out? Or do you think that the team has handled this perfectly, setting themselves up for a run at another big name in 2016?