It looks like, if Tom Ricketts presses the gas pedal to the floor, the Cubs could have anywhere from $50-70 million dollars to throw at free agents. Those who follow me may well know my utter distaste for paying the free agent market premiums. I much prefer talent acquisition through the draft and (more importantly) through trade.
That being said, the Cubs are in a big market and could possibly have a near-Yankees payroll if they ever get their own television network (like the Yankees YES network). As such, I have to accept the Cubs are typically in a position to go after free agents. And with possibly $50M sitting around, what else you gonna do?
The Cubs possible 25 man roster for 2012 would indeed feature some carryovers from 2011, but there are still some key openings:
RF Tyler Colvin, LHBSS Starlin Castro, RHB1B3B Aramis Ramirez, RHB (maybe)CF Marlon Byrd, RHBLF Alfonso Soriano, RHBC Geovany Soto, RHB (Arb 2)2B Darwin Barney, LHB
C Koyie Hill, RHB (Arb 3)INF Jeff Baker, RHB (Arb 3)OFUT Blake DeWitt, RHB (Arb 1)
...And the pitchers:
So, Tyler Colvin could realistically play either first or right field, meaning the Cubs could seek either spot through free agency. What's that you say? Albert Pujols still hasn't signed a long-term extension with the Cardinals?SP Carlos Zambrano, RHPSP Ryan Dempster, RHP (maybe)SP Matt Garza, RHP (Arb 3)SP Randy Wells, RHP (Arb 1)SP Andrew Cashner, RHP~~~~CL Carlos Marmol, RHPSU Sean Marshall, LHPRP Marcos Mateo, RHPRP Jeff Samardzija, RHPRP James Russell, LHPRPRPRP
Yeah, this may not be the best free agency class in 2012 (I haven't checked), but there's at least one big signing the Cubs could look into. Though I'm not in favor of throwing $30M and 10 years Pujols's way, I don't think I'd complain if we got him.
Also, the Cubs presently have Barney slotted at
Altogether, the Cubs have openings at: 1B/RF, 2B, 4th OF (Fernando Perez please?), possibly 3B, possibly SP, and 3 RP spots. Hopefully the RPs will be filled with trades or cheap free agents, as the Rays prove year in and year out that prudent GMs can build bullpens cheaply.
Either way, the Cubs have some openings and the money to fill them. The 2012 season could be pretty fun.