The Price of Winning

As the Cubs soared into the top ten of salaries in the majors, the expectations have risen to an all-time high. Fortunately for the Cubs, they do not have any albatross-type salaries from players that are not producing, ala the New York Yankees. 2009 will see a few contracts come off the books, and this is assuming the Cubs do not end up resigning any of their own free agents. Ryan Dempster, Bobby Howry, Jon Lieber, Kerry Wood, Scott Eyre, Daryle Ward and more than likely, Henry Blanco will all be free agents at the end of the season. Unfortunately, a few of the player’s contracts were back loaded and increase in value, thus negating much of the expiring contracts and keeping the team salary over $100 million dollars for the foreseeable future. This is not taking into account some players who will be arbitration eligible and the auto-renewal contracts of players with 0-3 years of service time. Overall, the financial future of the Cubs appears a little brighter than other teams with contracts totaling over $100 million dollar mark this year.

The Cubs’ brass has done this by not overextending too much and not paying more than market value, in most cases. In addition, they have signed key players to long-term contracts, like Carlos Zambrano and Aramis Ramirez. The Cubs, for the most part, have been pretty smart with the free agents they have signed over the past two years. They did not overpay for players like Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand….the contract Rowand signed during the off-season is worth $12 million more than the contract Kosuke Fukudome signed, and is a year longer.

This trend should continue and it will keep the Cubs competitive in the free agent and trade markets. And at the same time allow them to build a productive farm system.

Cubs’ Payroll
CubsSalary2008.jpg
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The Salaries are in Millions

  • Bolded years are option years.
  • Note: This is a rough estimate of the Cubs’ salary. Most of the variables are with the younger players and how much service time they accrue this year.

Many of the Cubs’ prospects have several option years remaining, even Reed Johnson has one left. Now you can see why Ronny Cedeno was going to make the club regardless of how he performed in Spring Training. Jeff Samardzija is burning options due to his Major League contract. In other words, he needs to be ready for the big leagues soon before his options run out. Only a couple of players are arbitration eligible in the upcoming off-season, but this number will increase if Matt Murton and Sean Marshall are recalled from Iowa.

Minor League Service Time
2008MinorLeagueOptions.jpg
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Example: Michael Wuertz has 3 years of service time with 7 days.

  • 1 year = 172 days
  • A player must have 3 years of service time to be eligible for arbitration. A player can also qualify as a Super 2, meaning the player has to be in the top 17% of players with more than 2 years, but less than 3 years of service time.
  • Matt Murton and Sean Marshall would qualify, but are in the minors and are not accumulating service time.

Sources: Cot’s Contracts and FoxSports.com