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While we’ve known for some time that the Chicago Cubs 2011 payroll would drop from 2010 (sigh), it has remained unclear just how much General Manager Jim Hendry would have to play with this Winter. Back of the envelope calculations have the guys under contract, including arbitration raises, taking home about $125 million this year. Last year’s payroll was about $145 million – so Hendry could have anywhere from $1 to $20 million. The guess?

That would be a not-so-big $10 million – roughly what Hendry figures to have in 2011 payroll room to fill three key roster spots as the meetings open. That won’t go far enough in the free-agent market if he wants to get a decent first baseman, experienced right-hander for the bullpen and even a Plan C-quality starter. Look for him to fill at least one need with a trade. Chicago Sun-Times.

Get the grousing out of your system and accept that $10 million is all the fifth most profitable team in baseball can “afford” this year. We good? Ok.

With that small amount of money, unless Hendry swings a trade or two, we’re realistically looking only at a first baseman like Carlos Pena, a lower tier reliever (no one you’d really want), and a non-guaranteed contract for a reclamation project pitcher.

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