Chairman: Cubs can spend in offseason

Updated: June 16, 2011, 1:00 AM ET
By Sahadev Sharma | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said Wednesday the team will have money to spend this coming offseason. How the team's resources will be allocated will be up to general manager Jim Hendry.

"We do have a lot of money coming off the books, obviously everyone is aware of that," Ricketts said. "Whether or not that goes back into a large free agent contract will be Jim's decision. What he'll do is weigh the plusses and minuses of what's out there and do what makes sense to win."

Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are expected to be available in free agency after the season. There's speculation the Cubs may be interested in one of the two.

The team has nearly $40 million in expiring contracts coming off its payroll at the end of the season. The Cubs' payroll was at an all-time high in 2010 at nearly $145 million, but after decreasing by $10 million this year, speculation had been that Ricketts would continue to slash costs.

"Even if we knew where [payroll] was going, we wouldn't talk about it," Ricketts said. "We don't talk about payroll."

Ricketts also shot down an earlier report that the team's debt would inhibit its pursuit of free agents, calling it a 'non-story'.

"What everyone should know . . . is that nothing in the capital structure, in the balance sheet, or any of the debt will, in any way, limit our ability to put a good team on the field," Ricketts said. "The fact is, this year we spent more on baseball operations than any year in the past and we continue to invest in the team. It's in no way a limitation on our ability to sign free agents or flexibility to build a better organization. It's just irrelevant to that."

Ricketts said the basic structure of the transaction of purchasing the team put them in technical default. The commissioner and the league are aware of it and there don't seem to be any concerns about the team's financial status.

Sahadev Sharma covers the Cubs and White Sox for ESPNChicago.com.