Saturday, February 19, 2011
Cubs not ruling out Albert Pujols
By Bruce Levine
MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs chairman of the board Tom Ricketts didn't exactly diffuse the idea that the Cubs could be a viable contender for the services of Albert Pujols if he becomes a free agent in 2012.
Ricketts, who was in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday to talk to the full Cubs squad before its first practice, was asked if the team could handle a mega-year, mega-bucks signing in the near future.
"All that stuff's in [general manager Jim Hendry's] court," Ricketts said. "There's going to be a little more financial flexibility at the end of the season than we've had in years past. We'll have to assess the situation when we get there and see what's available."
Ricketts acknowledged, however, that ultimately it's his call when the team has to decide whether to spend multimillions on a player.
"Clearing any large contracts needs to be approved by ownership," Ricketts said. "It's particularly important when you consider the lengths of some of the contracts that are being offered."
It's been reported that Pujols, 32, is looking for a 10-year, $300-million deal with the Cardinals.
Pujols, the Brewers' Prince Fielder and the Cubs' Carlos Pena will be the only big-name, free-agent first basemen available next November.
Ricketts told ESPN 1000's "Talking Baseball" on Saturday that the words he shared with the team's players, front office staff and executives wasn't exactly a Knute Rockne-type speech, but one of enthusiasm and welcoming new people to the organization.
He also said that the franchise is looking ahead to a new plan for a Wrigley Field renovation in the future, but nothing is imminent at this point. On Friday, Ricketts' brother, Todd, also on the Cubs' board of directors, said the team will have the renovation plan within the next year.
Ricketts' proposal to use $200 million in state bonds to help renovate the neighborhood ball park was met with opposition from Gov. Pat Quinn and others.
"We continue to talk to our elected officials," Ricketts said. "We're just going to work it through, come up with a great solution and by the time we announce what is the best answer, I think everyone will be supportive."
Ricketts said there have been some changes made at Wrigley since last season, but added "there are no big revenue spikes out of the park this year."
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.