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REPORT: Cubs Ownership Recently Increased Budget for Player Payroll in 2021

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs surprised a lot of folks – none moreso than the fans – this morning by agreeing to an actually-costs-money deal with free agent outfielder Joc Pederson.

And as a follow on that news, Dave Kaplan drops a significant report:

So many reactions …

1.) This is obviously something we all just want to believe is true, so we have to take a beat before we just start getting all happy and crazy. Your desire to believe something can skew you reaction to reports about that thing being true.

2.) HOWEVA, yeah, I believe this report. For one thing, the Joc Pederson signing is a big data point that we all admit was kinda hard to track absent a bump in the budget. It’s not like it’s a huge-money signing, but every indication was that there just wasn’t really any money for 2021 right now. So the addition of $7 million to the bottom line is pretty significant.

3.) For another thing, we’ve always said the Cubs’ budget was going to be a range, and they were going to try to finalize it as soon as possible based on projections for what revenues in 2021 could look like. The rub has always been the pandemic and the vaccine rollout. With those situations improving, it’s possible the Cubs developed enough confidence in Tier X of the budget projections to release another tranche of spending dollars to Jed Hoyer. In fact, I suspect that’s exactly what happened.

4.) Note that the Cubs are still very much looking at all the buy-low pitching options even after the release of additional dollars, and that still makes sense. Like with the Pederson signing, you’re just looking to add value where you can. And in a year where we know the Cubs have SO MANY innings to cover, it’s still going to make sense to load up on could-be arms when the market is so full of them.

5.) Relatedly, I wouldn’t go assuming this news means the Cubs can suddenly start going after the best pitchers left on the market. An “increase” in dollars available to create “some” flexibility for Hoyer isn’t the same thing as a monster increase in payroll. Times, I suspect, are still “tight.”

6.) Relatedly to the relatedly, I also wouldn’t go assuming this news means there won’t be any additional trades. The Cubs’ goal for this year is to compete, yes, and signing short-term players when the free agent market gives you those options is consistent with that goal. But their goal is also to add long-term value via prospect acquisitions, and that is going to mean that trading controlled players for value is still on the table – maybe even moreso now that the Cubs have the cash available to spend in free agency to offset the losses, and also have the cash available to include in trades to increase the prospect return.

7.) The other thing to keep in mind here is that the offseason is almost over. A lot of the best free agents are signed up. Even if the Cubs can now go after big league pieces on big league deals, what are we looking at? Maybe a guy like Kolten Wong at second base? Maybe a big league deal for a reliever, and maybe a little cash that’s necessary to sign a reclamation starter or two? There just aren’t a lot of significant impact guys left on the market at this point.

In any case, I don’t want to be too dour on this front. This is good news. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken this long, and maybe the payroll is still gonna be miles down from last year and the year before. But this is SOME flexibility, as Kaplan reports, and that matters if Hoyer uses it wisely to build in the short and long-term.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.