Three full offseasons have elapsed since the Cubs signed Yu Darvish to a six-year contract, and the only multi-year arrangement they’ve signed with a free agent in the offseasons since was a two-year, $5MM deal to utilityman Daniel Descalso. Even including the in-season three-year contract Craig Kimbrel signed in 2019, the Cubs’ total free-agent expenditures over the past three years comes to just under $82MM — about 65 percent of the total figure they gave to Darvish alone. Suffice it to say, they haven’t been especially active — at least not by the standards of a former $200MM-payroll club that plays in one of the game’s largest markets.
Team chairman Tom Ricketts has attributed the downturn in spending to myriad factors. As far back as 2019, he claimed that the Cubs “didn’t have any more” resources to commit to payroll, and in the years since he’s referenced the “dead-weight loss” associated with paying the luxury tax and “biblical” losses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 2021 season, of course, saw the Cubs blow up the core of their World Series-winning 2016 team. They traded Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez (as well as several other veterans) prior to the deadline. Now, with a much cleaner payroll slate, Ricketts has publicly indicated for the first time in several years that the club plans to spend to some extent this winter.