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MoneyBased on data they were able to gather, the Associated Press has published their projected Opening Day payrolls for each of the 30 MLB teams, including projected figures for players they are anticipating will make teams out of Spring Training (for example, I’d guess they’re projecting Emilio Bonifacio to make the Cubs, which will come with a $2.5 million salary).

At present, the AP projects the Cubs to break camp with a payroll in the $89 million range, which would put them right around 23rd in baseball. As I recently explored in depth, the Cubs could support a higher payroll right now, despite certain financial limitations, but adding pieces just to add payroll right now isn’t the most prudent course.

Among the interesting bits in the payroll figures: the median payroll is right around $105 to $110 million, which used to be a pretty solid payroll. Now, to be in the top five, you’ve got to be over $160 million (imagine what the Cubs could add if they tacked on $70 million in payroll – someday … someday … ). The Reds are the highest in the NL Central at just $112 million, and the Cardinals are just behind at $111 million. The Pirates are all the way down at $78 million. In time, the Cubs will almost certainly be able to wield a considerable financial advantage over their fellow NL Central competitors, though having the home-grown talent – regardless of the cost – is going to continue to be the real key.

The Dodgers’ payroll is nearly three times the Cubs’ payroll. The difference between the two payrolls would be enough to fund an entirely separate top ten payroll. That’s neat.

The projected payroll list:

1. L.A. Dodgers – $235,295,219

2. N.Y. Yankees – $203,812,506

3. Philadelphia – $180,052,723

4. Boston – $162,817,411

5. Detroit – $162,228,527

6. L.A. Angels – $155,692,000

7. San Francisco – $154,185,878

8. Texas – $136,036,172

9. Washington – $134,704,437

10. Toronto – $132,628,700

11. Arizona – $112,688,666

12. Cincinnati – $112,390,772

13. St. Louis – $111,020,360

14. Atlanta – $110,897,341

15. Baltimore – $107,406,623

16. Milwaukee – $103,844,806

17. Colorado – $95,832,071

18. Seattle – $92,081,943

19. Kansas City – $92,034,345

20. Chicago White Sox – $91,159,254

21. San Diego – $90,094,196

22. N.Y. Mets – $89,051,758

23. Chicago Cubs – $89,007,857

24. Minnesota – $85,776,500

25. Oakland – $83,401,400

26. Cleveland – $82,534,800

27. Pittsburgh – $78,111,667

28. Tampa Bay – $77,062,891

29. Miami – $47,565,400

30. Houston – $44,544,174

  • brains

    “the plan” is working. on you guys.

    • C. Steadman

      “but adding pieces just to add payroll right now isn’t the most prudent course”

      • brains

        it never will be according to current fan logic, and in fact we’ll see more retractions this year. bank on it.

        • C. Steadman

          With every retraction there will be an addition…subtract Barney add Olt. Payroll will go down about 2 million but you gain a better player…now retractions=prospect additions which will in turn better the team..

        • bbmoney

          nope…that’s only true in your shitty version of other people’s logic. Just let the other folks talk for themselves.

  • CubFan Paul

    Embarrassing.

    • roz

      You people are never going to stop, are you?

      • CubFan Paul

        “You people”

        Care to explain?

        • roz

          You people that bitch about the payroll and think that simply because the team plays in Chicago, the payroll absolutely must by sky-high.

          • CubFan Paul

            “You people…and think that simply because the team plays in Chicago, the payroll absolutely must by sky-high.”

            I don’t think that at all. Instead of insulting first next time try asking a follow-up question to keep the conversation flowing (and interesting).

            • roz

              So the low payroll is embarrassing for some other reason then?

      • brains

        commentary reacts to a situation. when the situation changes new comments will adjust to it. if it’s a terrible situation, you get frustrated comments.

        • BT

          The problem is, a certain segment of this board does not react to new situations. Brett posts a thorough debunking of the idea that Ricketts is sucking the team dry? No change to the comments from some people. Posted reports that front offices around the league think the Cubs are doing a great job and that teams are afraid of what the Cubs are becoming? No change to the comments of some people.

          But they will keep “telling it like it is”, and feeling superior to everyone else, until the Cubs are good again, when all will be forgotten.

      • C. Steadman

        “What’d you mean…’you people’”

        • Noah_I

          I think it’s clear she means the Spanish Inquisition.

          • C. Steadman

            Wut

  • markdwalton

    Can you imagine having the Philly’s payroll and being that bad? I feel better about being the Cubs situation!

  • Myles P
  • NorthSideIrish

    They’re going to need the money to sign these guys to extensions…Cubs have three of the Top 10.

    http://www.gammonsdaily.com/gammons-poll-front-office-on-young-position-players-with-star-potential/

    • CubFan Paul

      “going to need the money to sign these guys to extensions”

      At earliest that’ll be after the 2015 season for Baez & Bryant and after 2016 for Almora

      • NorthSideIrish

        Wasn’t really being all that serious. Even if they signed all three to extensions, you’d only be looking at $20-24M for all three. Mostly just wanted to share the link.

      • Orval Overall

        Not to mention, you might commit to a contract in 2015 or 2016 but they wouldn’t shell out the big cash then. The early salaries would probably be around $1-$2 million, building as it gets to what would have been his arbitration years. If 2015 is year 1 of service time for both players (would not be earlier than that given assignments to minor leagues to start 2014), then the first arb year they’d be buying out is the 2018 season, and the first free agent season they’d be buying out is 2021.

        There is no reason why a free agent signed to a 4 year deal before the 2014 season would take away money that is needed to extend Baez, Bryant or Almora.

  • BenW

    When I look at the offseason signings, I’m not really sad about anyone the Cubs missed out on. Tanaka would have been nice, but man, he got a lot of money.

    Next offseason is where we can really gauge our progress. If we end up runner up again multiple times, then I think people can hammer the Cubs for not spending. Otherwise, it appears things are moving along like they should.

    • CubFan Paul

      “I’m not really sad about anyone the Cubs missed out on”

      Santana would of been nice after not ponying up on Tanaka

      • blublud

        But did Santana want the Cubs?

  • Kyle

    It was brilliant to sign a bunch of free agents last offseason. It was brilliant to barely do anything this offseason. I heard Epstein had cereal for breakfast this morning, and really, when you think about it, that’s a brilliant choice too. Much better than what Hendry would have chosen.

    • brains

      in fact, epstein is so infallible that he can change the course of baseball history by simply not doing anything at all of originality of worth on the mlb level for many, many years. it’s a radical change that will surely change the sport like billy beane did in the 1980s.

      • brains

        and the change will be so radical that we wont even need to know who are players are anymore, just their numbers and that theo is keeping a close eye on the circulation of the team brand.

    • CubFan Paul

      Awesome.

    • Fishin Phil

      You know Hendry chose donuts.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Depends on the cereal. I bet it was Frosted FIPs.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Theo’s Mom (Tom) is cheap. I bet it was Honey Nut Toasty-oWAR’s

        • Edwin

          The Cubs will not be outbid for Honey Nut Toasty-oWAR’s.

          • Hee Seop Chode

            Except by the Yankees. They don’t count.

        • C. Steadman

          They probably had the Frosted FIPs in the grocery cart right up until the cash register, but then put them back on the shelf and Brian Cashman’s mom got them.

        • ssckelley

          There is no way they paid retail on that box of Honey Nut Toasty’s. You know damn well they went over to the clearance bin and bought a box of those Quaker Oats Christmas Opps All Berries. Then I bet they ran over to Walmart and “returned” them and asked for an exchange for a new box.

          • C. Steadman

            I bet they got Honey Bunches of OPS

          • C. Steadman

            Thank goodness they didn’t buy the expired AVG Jacks or the Frosted-Mini Ribbies like Dusty Baker eats

    • Edwin

      The IFA plan? Brilliant.

      When Epstein took over this team, the breakfast situation was in shambles. The Cubs had nothing in the cupboard. Now they have plenty of great cereals on the way. Progress.

      • nick5253

        Year 1: evaluate breakfast situation from top to bottom. Conclusion: cupboard is bare.
        Year 2: evaluate breakfast replenishing options. Conclude that going to the grocery store is the best option for replenishing, however the grocery store was closed by the new CBA.
        Year 3: sell off other assets in order to buy breakfast via delivery service which is much more expensive.
        Year 4+: Wait for delivery to arrive.

      • Kyle

        Spending twice what any other team was spending on top IFAs to get a bunch in one year? Brilliant.

        Being unable to buy any significant IFAs in the next season, forced to spread our considerable draft pool around for smaller guys? Also brilliant.

        Having nearly every significant IFA you’ve signed lose some status since signing? Brilliant.

        • D.G.Lang

          Perhaps we could consider that Theo and company didn’t believe that there wasn’t going to be as much projectable talent available next year when they would have fewer total dollars to deal with as there was during this year’s draft where they had more money to use to begin with.

          Perhaps we could also consider that the penalties will be much more severe next year if a team is forced to exceed their budget trying to fight for the fewer more projectable talent while they penalties were much less severe this year with a bigger pool of projectable talent.

          Another consideration is that the more projectable players obtained this year will be closer to providing value than any acquired next year would be therefore producing a quicker return on investment than waiting another year to potentially obtain talent which might not be as good as what they have already obtained this year.

          Obviously whatever IFA talent they did obtain this year will be farther away than any local college talent that could have acquired this year but maybe that isn’t important. Perhaps the value of obtaining more IFA talent this year lies in the fact that they would be more likely to be mature and producing in the future when we are performing better and drafting further down in both the regular and the IFA drafts therefore better supporting the second wave of quality in-house talent which we expectedly will have a harder time acquiring when we are a better performing team drafting lower.

          Even if it were possible to obtain more talent being closer to producing in the regular draft the past few years we probably wouldn’t have been able to use them and they would have simply been sitting around as excessive “depth” or potentially been traded for another need such as pitching. If just being held as depth they possibly might wind up not coming up to the majors due to the already present talent we recently acquired in those recent drafts.

          The Cubs did very good in acquiring very good prospects for near term potential but also wisely took advantage of the IFA rules to also heavily stock the better IFA talent from this years draft for future longer term potential.

          By all accounts that I have read the Cubs did very well in this years IGA draft acquiring several of the better and more desirable potential prospects than any other team and certainly more than any team might have been expected to have obtained. The extra money expended this year will produce a better return despite the penalties and taxes than if they waited till next year and had to compete for fewer less certain talent.

          Whatever they did this year and will do next year in the IFA draft does not negatively affect the regular draft and simply accelerated the potential return from next years IFA draft by acquiring more and better talent this year despite the penalties.

          The restrictions imposed on next years IFA draft come with a benefit of a potential tradable pool of tradable IFA slot money allowed which might not have been worth as much next year as the extra money spent this year was. Those tradable allowances (not actual funds but permission to spend ones own funds) can now possible be traded away to acquire some other projectable talent which would be closer to producing than any IFA talent would be anyway.

          I believe that some people wanting to accelerate the rebuild process are failing to realize that by investing more this year in better IFA prospects rather than waiting for next year when they believe that there will be fewer higher quality prospects with higher penalties for pursuing them Theo and company are doing exactly that.

          I guess that those people would rather bitch than think ahead intelligently and understand the logic for the Cubs moves.

        • BT

          Their IFA’s have all lost “status”? How so?

  • Sandberg

    You know Brett was cringing as the mouse was positioned over the “Publish” button.

    • brains

      i think brett has had a nonstop “the office” cringe lifestyle for the past year or so. but he’s cringing all the way to the bank; he’s earned it. and that’s what similarly makes this a kind of comedy.

      • C. Steadman

        “and that’s what similarly makes this a kind of comedy.”

        Comedy is seeing your name “brains” above the things you post…that’s comedy.

        • brains

          yes it is. :)

    • ssckelley

      I agree, when he writes an article on payroll he has to know it is not going to end well in the comment section. The usual ones come out in force.

      But speaking of usual ones, Jon still in bed?

  • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

    “(imagine what the Cubs could add if they tacked on $70 million in payroll – someday … someday … ). ”

    That’s the amount they should have free to spend next year. Now…about using that payroll.

    • CubFan Paul

      “$70 million…That’s the amount they should have free to spend next year”

      Good luck with that. I expect the $110MM cap and more excuses, even with the new TV deal in place.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        Payroll for next year comes in at $60Mish right now with rough arb estimates.

        Theo said money is actually rolling over to next year so that should leave us with $20M. Keeping the $110M cap gives you $70M.

        The Cubs could go on a giant spending binge this offseason and still keep payroll around league average.

        • C. Steadman

          I’m actually thinking they go after Scherzer hard.

          • Kyle

            Not a chance.

            Is he unusually young for a free agent, thus meaning we’d be buying all prime years? No.
            Will he be the last piece on a team otherwise ready to challenge for best in the league? Almost certainly no.

            They’ve made it clear and explicit those are the only two times they will pay top dollar market price, and Scherzer is getting that barring injury.

            • C. Steadman

              “go after”

              I didn’t say they’ll for sign him…It’s similar how they went after Tanaka and Anibal Sanchez. You don’t think the Cubs will be a team mentioned in on Scherzer all the way till the end?

              • C. Steadman

                “for sure sign him” it should read

              • Kyle

                Sanchez was a lower-tier guy, not the top guy of the offseason. Similar to, say, Masterson this coming offseason. I can see us being very in on Masterson.

                Tanaka was one of the rare young FAs.

                Scherzer will be more like a Cano situation.

                • Kyle

                  That was ambiguously written, so let me clarify:

                  Sanchez was in a tier lower than the very best, but he wasn’t in a “lower-tier” as in below-average or anything. He was a good pitcher and got paid like a good pitcher. But Scherzer is a great pitcher.

                  • C. Steadman

                    No worries, I agree the Cubs won’t sign Scherzer but I think they pursue him but ultimately sign a Masterson type

                  • BT

                    The Cubs will almost certainly go after Scherzer if he makes it to free agency. He will be 29 starting next year. The “unusually” part of the “unusually young” restriction” will ease year by year as the core of young players gets closer to the majors. They will have more money than they did this year. They will badly need TOR starters.

                    That doesn’t mean they will get him, but I’ll bet the 7 dollars in my pocket that they will go after him.

                    • brains

                      they’ll make a showing good enough to advertise, but they will not sign him. they’ll be partly right, due to what will certainly be astronomic demands. and partly wrong, because the team will remain in shambles and they won’t have made requisite effort to improve in a meaningful way.

                    • BT

                      I’m pretty sure I can guess which part you will be focused on.

                    • brains

                      the purposefully not signing him part? possibly. we’ll see what changes happen this year to the team, such as the probable firing of jed hoyer, replaced with mcleod.

                    • C. Steadman

                      “probable firing of jed hoyer”

                      …just stop

                    • brains

                      i think i’m winning you over, steadman.

                  • noisesquared

                    Fangraphs has Sanchez at a 17.7 WAR over the last 4 years(124 starts), Scherzer at 17.4(128 starts). Sanchez was a 6.2 WAR last year, Scherzer a 6.4. Both are the same age(both turn 30 this year).

                    Scherzer looks to be a ‘good’ pitcher who’s going to get paid like a ‘great’ pitcher, which scares me. 2014 is going to be a critical year in setting his offseason value. Any regression and the contract he spurned from Detroit may haunt him.

          • ssckelley

            you can stop with the sexual overtures!

          • 1060Ivy

            Believe that Olney rumored that Scherzer was looking for a 8 year deal. Tigers may have countered with 6 years then dropped negotiating with Boras.

            Waiting for the 2015 headline: ‘Scherzer signs with (someone other than Cubs)’ and segment of Cub fans react by stating what a great move it was that the Cubs didn’t sign him. Signing a 30 year pitcher to a 8 year deal at whatever salary is questionable but fairly certain that sycophants will tout the non-move as all part of the plan.

            • C. Steadman

              He turned down a 6/144M deal from Tigers according to a Tiger blog. It’s a pretty smart move to not sign a 30yr old pitcher to a 8 year deal at 24M a year(I bet it’ll be more than 24M, but using it as a reference bc it was the AV of the Tigers offer)

        • Orval Overall

          That math only works if you’re rolling over $20M for multiple seasons, or you’re signing commitments that only last the one season. The guys that we would hope to sign (elite starting pitcher; valuable bat) will be on multi-year commitments and there is very little else rolling off the books in the near future to offset that.

          In other words, if you’re suggesting a 2015 payroll of $130 million, I think no way. I’d love it, but no way.

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            If you sign a couple above-average guys, 2 impact talents (you’d be hard pressed to find 2 free agents worth north of $20M AAV), bring in Baez, I bet you could still fall below that $30M, have contracts falling off after next year and be in contention long enough to drive some extra sales for 2016.

            With the increased advertising revenue and the new partial TV deal, I’d expect the Cubs to begin living in the $130M range for the next couple of years.

            Then the fruits of Bryant/Soler/Almora/This year’s draft guy/Samardzija trade return start to pay off and get some solid production from cheap players.

            All in time for the 2016 CBA to come and screw it all up.

  • nick5253

    It’s amazing that 4 of the bottom 6 teams made the playoffs last year.

    • lmendez68

      Spot on! It’s amazing how all these people are crying over increasing payroll. These four teams with lower payroll than the cubs will have successful seasons. Amazed at how you guys don’t get the plan, get as many wins as possible per every dollar spent!

      25. Oakland – $83,401,400

      26. Cleveland – $82,534,800

      27. Pittsburgh – $78,111,667

      28. Tampa Bay – $77,062,891

      • Kyle

        But the Cubs *won’t* have a successful season (more than likely, at least. Anything’s possible).

        If you can put together a good team without a big payroll, good for you. But if you can’t, it’s negligent to leave a lot of money on the table that could have improved your chances.

        • lmendez68

          I get you. But remember this is part of “the plan”. Cleaning up old payroll, so when prospects come up, you can add pieces that complement the rookies in the bigs. Even then I don’t believe you need a payroll over 100 million to succeed.

  • Norm

    Whaaaaa Theo’s plan is different than how I would have done it and he’s clearly wrong even though the thought inside the game is that they are on the right track whhhhaaaaaa.

    • Kyle

      Pay no attention to the wins and losses. Let Kaplan round up some anonymous quotes to do your thinking for you.

  • Spoda17

    Would you rather be the Cubs or the Phillies..? The Phillies are in some deep doo doo…

    I really don’t care what the payroll is; it’s pretty much irrelevant at this point in the plan.

    • Kyle

      I would rather be the Cubs than Phillies. I’d rather be a lot of other teams than the Cubs.

      • ssckelley

        I hate to admit you are right on this, and there is one in particular I would trade franchises with in a heartbeat and I refuse to say the name.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Over a 10-year time horizon, I can think of maybe four teams that would be in the conversation with the Cubs, from my perspective.

        • ssckelley

          IF everything goes well with these prospects coming up.

        • Edwin

          Depends on when you want to start the 10-year horizon.

        • Orval Overall

          Does the 10 year time horizon extend in both directions, and if so, do the Royals circa 2009 make the conversation?

          Lots and lots of talent coming up in that system or just breaking into the league. Several likely All-Stars in Gordon, Hosmer and Moustakas, and a staff that’s going to be led by a future Cy Young contender in Hochevar.

          [Obviously, I'm being a bit obnoxious, but I'm trying to do it with a point - you can do everything right, as the Royals did, make picks that are universally acclaimed as correct, and still fail to produce the kind of future everyone is salivating about here.]

          • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

            This is very true, although there is still a lot of time for Moustakas to bust out.

            The one thing the Royals don’t/didn’t have is the revenue of the Cubs. 10 years in the future, the EBITDA restrictions are going to be significantly less while the Cubs will have a new TV deal and loads new advertising in the stadium.

        • Brocktoon

          I guess we have significantly different perspectives

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I can only assume that some of you didn’t fully read the financial piece and contemplate its impact on the future Cubs.

          I ain’t just talkin’ about prospects (which are swell).

          • Brocktoon

            Half of your ten year horizon includes time when we may see noncompetitive payrolls. That’d have to be a hell of a run from 2019-2023.

            • Brocktoon

              It also assumes all the best laid financial and come to fruition. I’ll take the bird in the hand that several clubs have right now

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                As discussed in the piece, the Cubs need only about half of the *expected* financial boosts to be realized to put them in an entirely different stratosphere.

      • Spoda17

        My point is spending money doesn’t equal wins. Also, not spending money doesn’t equal losses.

        My other point is that the Cub’s salary is irrelevant to the current situation. In fact, I wish it was even lower. We are going to lose 95+ games this year, that’s a given. Would you rather pay $10 bucks for a $2 sandwich or $2 bucks for a $2 dollar sandwich…

        • DarthHater

          “Would you rather pay $10 bucks for a $2 sandwich or $2 bucks for a $2 dollar sandwich…”

          If i was starving, the only food available was a $2 sandwich, and a bunch of other people were willing to spend $9 for it, then yea, I’d probably pay $10 for that $2 sandwich.

          • brains

            this sandwich is giving us food poisoning. 10 years from now the FDA will step in.

  • ssckelley

    The odd part of this list is that the Cubs could spend about 19 million in payroll and STILL only be in the middle of the pack.

    • ssckelley

      Another oddity is that they are 4th within their division in payroll and are closer to last (Pittsburgh) than they are to 3rd (Milwaukee). If you would have told me that 5 years ago I would not have believed you.

  • itzscott

    Take away Soriano’s $18 million and the Cubs are at #28…. $71 million…. just above Houston and Miami who’s owners everyone on this board laughs at for being so frugal and inept.

    But if it’s the Cubs, it’s okay and “the plan” is brilliantly working?

    Woo-Hoo!

    • C. Steadman

      But we’re way closer to the Tampa Bay Rays who are a smart franchise! Plus it’s only 14 million owed to Soriano this year.

    • CubFan Paul

      It’s $13MM for Soriano, but *solid* point.

  • ssckelley

    Add the bottom 2 together and still only be in 18th place.

  • cavemancubbie

    I don’t think it takes a great statistician to see there is NO correlation between payroll and wining, as some on this board would lead us to believe.

    • brains

      but there’s a strong correlation between spending when you need to, and not spending when you need to, and probable outcomes.

    • InTheoWeTrust

      3 of the top 10 in payroll made the playoffs. Spend Spend it definitely correlates to a good team.

    • Brocktoon

      Yep just think how much better the dodgers would be with an 85m payroll

  • C. Steadman

    Uh oh, Cubs better stop, payroll just dropped 1.9M

  • fromthemitten

    Well, at least out financial struggles aren’t related to Bernie madoff like that other big market team right ahead of us

  • Johnny Chess

    Most 8 hole hitters have hi OBP so they can get to the pitcher.

    • TK

      I hope thats sarcasm. If not, please name 5 NL #8 hitters with .340+ OBP.

  • Johnny Chess

    Spend more on who? Tanaka is one injury away from being useless.
    Cano is old and there hasn’t been a True #1 available to sign. Pick your spots. The Cubs will pounce on a #1 when one becomes available. Hopefully one develops from the Farm. We need 40+ HR threat at 1st and a 30+ HR threat at 3rd, LF and RF. 20+ HR at 2nd and SS.
    .280 + at Catcher. 30+ SB at CF and IF

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