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Yesterday, Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry took to the media to refute suggestions that the team had serious financial troubles that would prohibit any kind free agent signings in the offseason.

“That’s not true at all,” Hendry said before last night’s series opener against the Brewers. “I had a lot of meetings with [Tom Ricketts] in the offseason. We knew the path we went on in ’07, ’08, when the club was going up for sale. It was high level spending and obviously turned into divisional championship success. When you don’t finish that off, and the length of the time that the sale took, there was an area there where [payroll was] a little stagnant, and moving forward. Nobody’s fault. That’s the price of doing business. It’s a historic franchise. It took a long time to sell.

“All our conversations with Tom in the offseason, and currently,” Hendry continued, “is ‘Let’s get to work. Let’s make the right decisions for next year. Let’s scout heavily at the major league level. Let’s keep an eye on our own guys development.’ It’s always been positive.”

“There’s never been any talk of not pursuing any free agents,” he said. “There are no financial difficulties here with the Ricketts family. And I think it will be a great franchise, and better than it’s ever been, down the road.”

As far as denials and refutations go, Hendry’s was fairly political. Note that he didn’t out-and-out say the Cubs will go after big name free agents, just that “there’s never been any talk of not” going after those guys. Still, Hendry’s statements comport with my recent analysis of the Cubs’ financial situation, and conclusion that the team probably will have plenty of cash to sign free agents.

In the end, the Cubs have some $50 million coming off the books at the end of 2011, and it’s almost impossible to imagine the Cubs not putting at least $40 million of that back into the team’s payroll. $10 to 15 million of that will be eaten up by arbitration raises and ML minimums, but the money should be there to go after a big name or two.

Perhaps the more interesting question is whether Jim Hendry will be the guy doing the going.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    And Hendry will be there to see that they do.

  • EQ

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see payroll climb next year.. Maybe more than 40-50 mil to spend.. I think Ricketts is going to feel the pressure to put a winner on the field and the need to compete asap. I wouldn’t be surprised if they spend more like 60 mil this off season.. that’s my fearless prediction.

    • TWC

      EQ, did you just say “wait ’till next year”?

      • EQ

        I guess if you read between the lines, yeah… oops… I’m hoping someone other than Hendry is making these decisions.. really, I just think the ricketts family will feel enormous pressure to win and they will overreact and approve a higher payroll next year… I believe the lack of butts in the seats will force them to do something to increase attendance.

  • http://bleachernation.com ricosanto

    To Keep Hendry next year to make spending decisions would be Insane.So he could sign Grabow 4.8 mill, Samardza 10 mil,Soriano 140 mil and he does not know how to play the game,Bradley 30 mill etc. etc. Then he gives contracts out like Aram, who could be an asset in a trade but he has clause if he is traded the 16 mill option kicks( Stupid)

  • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

    For a guy who said a couple of weeks ago that he hadn’t even discussed future plans with Ricketts, he sure has a lot of info about what the offseason is going to be like. I wonder what has changed recently that Hendry is now looking towards next year and not putting all his eggs in the “concentrating on getting better this year” basket.

    • Ace

      Ha. Great point. Although, I suppose Hendry’s main comment was about the things they *hadn’t* discussed… so maybe he just meant “we haven’t discussed not going after any free agents because we haven’t discussed anything.”

  • CubsFanatic

    In all honesty, I say give some kids a shot. Yeah sign some big name pitching cause we need that, but as far as fielding, I say the only must is possibly Pujols/Fielder, and maybe Jose Reyes for 2B. But I’m really hoping they focus on their pitching.

    Who ever put the 2008 Cubs together should be in charge. (I’ll never believe it was Hendry that made those decisions.)

    • Ace

      Reyes scares the crap out of me. Turns 29 next year, hurt the last two years (until his contract year…), speed diminishing, career slash line of just .289/.338/.440. For the money he’s going to get, I’m thinking some team gets stuck with an albatross. Hopefully it won’t be the Cubs.

      • Michigan Goat

        Agreed, Reyes has danger, danger written all over him, speed player with limited power are always a bad investment once they turn thirty.

        • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

          You realize that, considering what you just said, Reyes will be our 2nd baseman next year?
          If Hendry is still gm it’s a lock.

          • Michigan Goat

            Yup, we are cursed if he sticks around

      • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/5386b75c5ecdcd1a7490dde9cd6dd3fa?s=80 Jeff

        He’s played himself into a heck of a contract. Heading into the season he was expected to be a lot cheaper and I thought it might be worth taking a chance on him, but he’s looking at 15 to 20 million a year in free agency if he keeps playing the way he is so far this year.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

          Yeah, I think he’ll get 20.

  • Sam

    Honestly i hope the cubs go right after prince. Pujols is “31″ (probably closer to 35) and do we really want to spend $300 on an aging 1st baseman when we could get prince (27) who has yet to hit his peak, not to mention he is a hell of a lot cheaper and he brings a lefty power bat to the lineup which we need.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      I hope you’re right, though I wouldn’t scream bloody murder if the Cubs somehow landed Pujols and committed to spending around him.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Not sure how much cheaper (per season) Fielder would be than Pujols.

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Exactly!

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Colvin to Iowa, Johnson active.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      Thanks, RRK.

      • Raymond Robert Koenig

        You’re welcome, Ace. Love the ‘site!

  • http:// ed

    This talk about (Hendry) spending money just pisses me off. At least take the check book away from that f%#%#$$%& asshole so he can’t do more damage.

    Put me on suicide watch, I can’t take anymore.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Ace

      Hopefully he won’t be doing the spending.

  • http://BleacherNation C-Dog1136

    Why can’t the Cubs trade Ramirez and maybe even Marlon Byrd. Ramirez needs to get out of his home run slump, and Marlon Byrd hasn’t played since Alfredo Aceves hit him in the eye. They need to sign either Reyes or Fielder because you only need one superstar. They need some pitchers too. They drafted Tim Lincecum, but he decided to go to college. They should not trade Reed Johnson because he’s just awesome.

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