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A bit of sobering financial news is trickling out of Chicago Cubs land. We all knew that the budget was tight this year – given the already bloated payroll and the ownership transition – but I don’t think we had any idea how tight.

In the middle of the offseason, Ryan Dempster agreed to defer $3 million of his salary – effectively making the team an interest-free loan.

The team used that windfall to sign outfielder Xavier Nady to a one-year contract, a move that likely would not have been possible without Dempster’s offer.

Fox Sports first reported on Friday that Dempster had deferred that portion of his $12.5 million contract for 2010.

According to an source, Dempster came to the team at the Cubs’ winter convention in January and asked how he could help. Dempster will get his money back over the next two years. The Cubs pitcher signed a four-year, $52-million contract before the 2009 season. ESPN Chicago.

That, my friends, is scary. Or at least, it’s as scary as a financial situation can be where the affected entity still manages to shell out over $140 million in salary.

Then again, maybe that’s precisely why it’s scary – if a team with a $25 million payroll needed a $3 million loan to make a move, well hey, that makes sense. When a team with a $140 million payroll – a team with a supposedly fan-centric, reinvest all proceeds type new owner – needs to ask one of its players to loan it some quick cash? That makes you wonder about the financial stability of the organization.

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