Matt Swartz has published a very interesting article about buidling an organization. I've said for several years now the idea that the Cubs under Hendry just handed out contracts like candy was ridiculous. Yes, there were some bad contracts. Name one GM who has been around for a decade without some bad free agent contracts. The Cubs current President gave out Soriano money to another LF a leg injury away from being next to useless.
Since 2007 only the Yankees, Cardinals had more fWAR from free agents than the Cubs. The Cubs had 24 and the Cardinals had 24.9. The Yankees had 32.2. Those wins cost money and they cost the Cubs an average of $4.4 million per win. Only the Cardinals, Padres, Braves, Rays and Rangers got more bang for their buck than the Cubs did. If you're interested, the Red Sox were 10th. They had 22.9 fWAR from free agents and they paid them $4.9 million per win.
Where the Cubs failed was at producing talent, which we already knew. Only the White Sox, Astros, Red, Padres and Royals received less fWAR from players they drafted. This is where the difference between the Cubs current front office and their past one is. The Red Sox were 2nd behind the Dodgers.
With the new CBA, signing amateur talent is a lot more difficult than before. The Red Sox were 2nd because they collected a ridiculous number of draft picks in the 1st round and the top 5 rounds overall (twice as many as the Cubs). That makes a huge difference. The ability to do that is gone. How much of the Red Sox ranking is because of their extra draft picks and how much because of superior scouting isn't known, but a betting man would be wise to bet on extra draft picks.
There are two things that are clear from this information: the Cubs were pretty damn good at getting production from the players they signed and the Red Sox were damn good at getting production from their minor league system. The CBA changes a lot of things with regards to paying amateur talent so we'll have to see how well Theo and company can do with these changes.