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Now that the next owner of the Chicago Cubs has been named – subject, of course, to a few perfunctory approvals and the actual negotiation of a purchase price – we can start to speculate about a Jake Peavy trade with a little more certitude (that’s a funny word – sounds like certainty with attitude).

Meanwhile, a deal for pitcher Jake Peavy remains on the back burner. The Cubs have between $8 million and $10 million remaining in their budget before they reach the magic $140 million payroll level that has been cited as their ceiling. They also have only one player to sign: a left-handed-hitting, defense-minded backup catcher, probably Paul Bako at around $500,000.

That means there should be enough room to fit Peavy in under the ’09 budget; he’s scheduled to make $9 million this year and has $63 million remaining on his contract, the bulk of it from 2010-12.

Hendry acquired five pitching prospects in recent deals with Cleveland and Baltimore, and a couple of them could be sent to San Diego in a deal for Peavy. Hendry also back-loaded contracts for Ryan Dempster and Milton Bradley for more flexibility this year. Peavy still wants to be a Cub, and the Padres still want to unload his contract. Everything seems to be in place except final approval of the new owner and a physical to determine whether Peavy’s elbow is sound. chicagotribune.com.

Not so fast my fr… er, Paul Sullivan. I agree with the last paragraph that many of Jim Hendry’s moves are obviously geared toward acquiring Peavy, but you fail to mention the biggest hurdle to a Peavy acquisition – and the REAL reason the Hendry had to wait for the new owner. Ooh, do I make you click after the jump to find out? Nah. I’ll just front page it.

The 2010 and beyond payroll.

Yes, back-loading deals for Dempster and Bradley would help with taking on Peavy’s payroll THIS year, but this year was never the problem. Then penchant for back-loading has left the Cubs with a glut of payroll in 2010 and beyond (until contracts like Soriano’s, Ramirez’s, Lee’s, Dempster’s, Lilly’s, Bradley’s, and Fukudome’s – holy shit that’s a lot – expire).

Thus, Hendry had to wait for the new owner to approve taking on Peavy’s escalating salary after this year. That’s what we should be hoping Ricketts is willing to do.

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