Little Room on the Cubs Budget for 2011?

The Cubs organizational meetings conclude on Friday and there has been plenty of news to come out of Mesa this week.

Aramis Ramirez officially exercised his option for 2011 on Thursday and will remain with the Cubs.

The Cubs continued tweaking their 40-man roster. Angel Guzman was outrighted to Triple-A, declared free agency and reportedly re-signed a minor league deal with the Cubs … that includes a non-roster invite to big league camp in the spring.

But the news, which has yet to surface, is what will the Cubs’ payroll be for the upcoming season?

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs payroll budget for next season figures to “leave little room for big-shot free agents” and Jim Hendry’s priorities this winter are to add a right-handed reliever, a starting pitcher and a first baseman.

Apparently with no room for the big names on the market, such as Cliff Lee or Adam Dunn, Jim Hendry “is focusing more on the likes of lefty-hitting Nick Johnson, if the medicals look good enough, for first base and is keeping an eye on former Cub Kerry Wood’s status for a possible bullpen job.”

Kerry Wood will be rumored to be on the Cubs’ radar until he signs elsewhere. This is not the first time Wood returning to the Cubs has been mentioned since the end of the season … and that is just a little over a month.

As for Nick Johnson, there is a connection with the Cubs’ new bench coach, but he can’t stay healthy and is coming off two surgeries on his right wrist.

The Cubs figure to be linked to just about every free agent first baseman this winter … especially the ones they could possibly sign to an affordable one-year contract.

Jim Hendry said he’s not been “given a payroll budget yet from chairman Tom Ricketts, but Ricketts has said for months the payroll will drop from last year’s opening figure” of somewhere near the $144 million mark.

Stay Tuned …

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax