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Do the Cubs actually have more 2020 budget remaining?

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A comment by Crane Kenney suggests they do.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Over the last week or so, I’ve written a lot about the Marquee Sports Network. The Cubs’ new TV channel is still planning to be on the air four weeks from today, when the club opens the 2020 spring season at Sloan Park in Mesa, Arizona against the Oakland Athletics.

There’s a long article by Patrick Mooney in The Athletic covering many of the topics about the Marquee Network we’ve covered here. You can read it to get up to speed on those. That’s not the subject of this article, though. What I want to note here is the very last paragraph of Mooney’s article, a quote from Cubs President of Business Operations Crane Kenney:

“The budget isn’t frozen,” Kenney told The Score. “Our roster comes together later almost every year. If you look at the last few years, (Dexter) Fowler walked into spring training after we’d already opened camp, so there’s a lot still to be done.”

“The budget isn’t frozen.”

“The budget isn’t frozen.”

“The budget isn’t frozen.”

Exactly what does that mean? Are the Cubs actually willing to go over the $208 million first level of luxury tax, a figure that’s been widely assumed to be sort of a de facto cap for the 2020 team payroll? Does it mean possible long-term contract extensions for Javier Baez or other members of the “core”?

Friday, there were reports, noted here, that the Cubs had signed Steven Souza Jr. to a major-league contract. I haven’t been able to locate any financials on that, but given Souza’s injury history, I would think that deal is heavily incentive-laden.

We definitely need some real baseball, or even practice baseball. The first Cubs pitcher/catcher workout is scheduled for February 12, just 17 days from now. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see if Theo & Co. have any contract surprises up their sleeve around that time.