A lot has been said and written recently regarding the Cubs financial state and the front office’s ability to execute their plan going forward.
There have been reports, and I have been told of some frustration in the front office when it comes to financial limitations. Even Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been telling everyone that will listen that their spending ceiling has been reached.
So when Tom Ricketts told everyone on Wednesday that the Cubs would be able to pump some money into the baseball budget (once they knew the renovation deal was approved) there were questions to be asked.
My first question was how soon would it affect the baseball budget?
Would an approval of the Wrigley upgrades allow some immediate funds for the front office to get their hands on? Or would they have to wait until some of the profits started flowing in? I asked for some thoughts on the subject.
One source thought the Cubs would spend more this offseaon (never anticipating a Dodger like payroll) thinking we could see a couple of solid additions this winter.
Another said he imagines they will spend more soon, but questioned what percentage of overall revenue goes into baseball ops?
A third was less optimistic. “I don't think they spend until they have the actual cash in their hands. Could take years.”
At the end of the day I don’t think smart Cubs fans are thinking about adding any big name players, at least not yet. It’s not about spending big really, but when you hear your front office telling everyone they are tapped out, it is unsettling.
Here is what I heard today. The bottom line is the Cubs are fully expected to be in position to spend when it counts. They will be able to add some payroll in the next two seasons, and obviously it could be affected by the scale and speed of the Wrigley restoration. Are things a little tight right now? Yes but not to worry really.
Gordon Wittenmyer for one has really been on the Cubs and Tom Ricketts case when it comes to this reported lack of resources and the way he purchased the club. The truth is the debt structure that Sam Zell and the Tribsters insisted on is a thorn in the baseball operations side. However, it shouldn’t’ stop the Cubs from staying on course in this rebuilding plan. I’m also told that even if Ricketts wanted to pay off the debt, he simply cannot by the agreement he entered.
Wittenmyer also points out some names (I gave you the other day) that Theo and Jed may have lost out on due to constraints.
Meanwhile, the debt-related crunch on the baseball end already has left the front office short in attempts to win posting bids for Asian free-agent pitchers Yu Darvish and Hyun-Jin Ryu in the last 18 months and influenced failed efforts to sign Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes, who eventually signed with Oakland.
If the Cubs were to be spending money right now, those would be the type of players you would want them adding.
I'm told the Cubs were the runners up on both Darvish and Ryu . If they lost out because of any budgetary limitations that really is too bad, but we may never know by how much. The Cubs may not be able to act like the big market club they are right now. Some fans may be in a hurry to see those days again.
With a renovation deal here, some contracts coming off the books there, throw in a new TV deal, and some young talent coming to fruition, the payoff will be something the rest of the division is not in a hurry to see.