- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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True to his word, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has added depth to the starting rotation and cut the payroll at the same time.
The Cubs are eight deep in starting pitching choices with the luxury of sending pitchers to the minors or back into the bullpen if they needed.
And the cut in payroll appears to be significant. The Cubs' payroll was at an all-time high of $142 million in 2010. Former general manager Jim Hendry cut it to $131 million in 2011. Now it appears the Epstein group will shave another $12 million or more off that figure in 2012.
The team let Aramis Ramirez leave as a free agent as well as pitcher John Grabow, first baseman Carlos Pena and catcher Koyie Hill. After trading pitcher Carlos Zambrano and Shawn Marshall, they cut $32 million from last year. Then you also have Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Silva off the books, chopping $28 million more off 2011.
If the Cubs began play today, they would have $109 million committed to the 25-man roster and $3 million to the 15 other players on the 40-man roster. Major league teams also add another $2 million in medical replacement pay for recalls when players go on the DL.
The total would be $114 million with the only arbitration case rounded off to $10 million for Matt Garza.
Let's assume the team will still add a couple of back-up infielders that might bring the 2012 payroll up to $120 million, which would be a savings of $11 million from 2011.
Now go back to 2009, the day Tom Ricketts made his first speech after his family bought the team. Ricketts said that every dollar the team made would go back into the future of the team, Wrigley upkeep and new projects. Again true to the chairman's word he took the $23 million he saved from the past two payrolls and purchased the McDonald's lot across Clark street for that same amount.
It appears the Cubs baseball and business plan are now on the same page.