Tom Ricketts had said that the overall baseball expenses would remain the same this season, but that seems difficult to accomplish at this point. The payroll was around $140 million last year and if you add in the draft, international free agent signings, front office employees you’re up to over $180 million. The Cubs front office has gotten larger and more expensive, but the CBA will hold down the amount the Cubs can spent on amateur talent. It was thought the payroll would be in the $120-130 million range awhile back, but that seems highly unlikely.
The Cubs currently have 15 players who are under contract or arbitration eligible. You can check out the payroll page here for the details if you’d like. I’ve been updating it regularly this offseason and did so before this article. As always, you can find this on the menu under Roster for future reference.
Using Matt Swartz’s estimated arbitration values the Cubs are currently on the hook for $79 million. But they are sending $15+ million to the Marlins so that must be added in. We’ll assume that Volstad earns $2.6 million so the Cubs will send $15.4 million to Miami. Now we’re up to $95.5 million.
It would be surprising if the Cubs did not re-sign Kerry Wood so let’s assume he’s paid a little more than market value. We’ll go with $3 million. $98.5 million to 16 players plus payment to Miami for Zambrano.
If the Cubs filled out the roster with 9 league minimum players that would increase the payroll to $102.8 million. Add in the 15 additional players on the 40-man roster and right now we’re at $103.6 million. Getting the payroll to $120-130 million just isn’t going to happen.
I don’t particularly care what the payroll is in 2012. They’re not going to contend so it doesn’t much matter to me. I don’t believe Ricketts lied either. At the time of his comment I’m not sure he knew which direction Theo and Hoyer would take this team. I’m not sure Theo and Hoyer knew. They’ve decided it’s best to rebuild the farm system and as a result the payroll will be trimmed. As long as they increase the payroll to an acceptable amount for a large market franchise when they are ready to contend I don’t much care.