jeff samardzija featureKen Rosenthal’s latest is a great read this morning, as he digs into a wide variety of hot stove topics, including the price of the Jordan Zimmermann signing, the Padres’ reluctance to trade Tyson Ross, the Dodgers’ ability to go big, and much more.

Of particular note to Cubs fans, however, is a robust section in the middle about the relative financial mettle of the Cubs and the Cardinals, and how the Cubs could proceed this offseason.

Having recently inked a new TV deal that will substantially bump their broadcast revenues starting in 2018, the Cardinals figure to be among the most financially flexible teams in the coming few offseasons, especially when you factor in how much local revenue they generate. For that reason, Rosenthal – and others in the industry, present company included – believe the Cardinals have the financial wherewithal to make two significant free agent additions this offseason, if they are so inclined. It’s never been the Cardinals’ style to throw financial might around, but, with obvious needs and a deep free agent pool, this might be the offseason to do it.

For example, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where the Cardinals decide they do not want to part with Jason Heyward, and spend aggressively to retain the outgoing free agent. From there, the Cardinals simply have to add a starting pitcher, and maybe they go really, really big and try to land David Price. Sound crazy? It’s not. I’m not saying the Cardinals are likely to be that aggressive, but, given their needs and current financial ability, it’s plausible.

By contrast, Rosenthal notes the Cubs’ lack of a long-term TV deal, something we discuss frequently, which may not come until after 2019. The Cardinals, then, will probably have a financial advantage over the Cubs (and the rest of the NL Central) for a couple years, at least (their new deal kicks in for the 2018 season). The small market Cardinals who are eligible to receive competitive balance draft picks.

With another competitive year in 2016 – and increased ticket revenues – for the Cubs, my guess is the gap closes relatively quickly, but, for this offseason, at least, I’d agree that the Cardinals probably have more spending ability than the Cubs.

That doesn’t mean the Cubs can’t do quite a bit, and Rosenthal lays out some familiar possible paths for the Cubs: spending big on a free agent like Price, or trading positional talent (like Jorge Soler) for a young pitcher like Shelby Miller or Carlos Carrasco and signing a free agent outfielder like Jason Heyward or Alex Gordon, or signing one or more mid-tier starting pitchers like Jeff Samardzija or John Lackey.

The road is still wide open to the Cubs, regardless of the Cardinals’ spending or Cubs’ limitations. There’s no reason the team cannot improve itself a good bit for 2016 and be competitive at the top of the NL Central.

That said, I’ll be mighty interested to see what the Cardinals (and Pirates, but we’re talking about the Cardinals here) do this offseason, both for 2016 and beyond. There are arguments they should be financial aggressive right now, but that doesn’t always wind up working out well.

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