As the Cubs Convention opens, Chairman Tom Ricketts talks long-term free-agent contracts and the smaller national reach on Marquee

Meghan Montemurro, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs could not afford to sit on the sideline in free agency.

The roster had too many holes entering the offseason and, frankly, lacked enough good players to field a competitive team in 2023. One month before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz., for spring training, the Cubs have added talent up the middle in an effort to prioritize defense.

During a conversation with the Chicago Tribune before the Cubs Convention kicked off Friday, Chairman Tom Ricketts lauded president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer for executing the team’s offseason plan — namely landing one of the top free-agent shortstops.

Dansby Swanson’s seven-year, $177 million contract is the second-largest deal in franchise history and was part of a booming free-agent market that has seen major league teams commit more than $3.5 billion to 100-plus free agents. The frenzy was in stark contrast to last offseason, when the lockout slowed the process.

“It hit fast and the bigger deals got signed right away,” Ricketts said. “I don’t know what will happen next year. I’m not sure if it’s a trend. A lot depends on who the players are, and there were some pretty high-profile players that came out this year and they’re able to demand those 10-, 11-, 12-year contracts now.

“I’m not sure if that’s a long-term trend, but I’m certainly aware that players are going to be expecting longer contracts going forward.”


Three players — Aaron Judge, Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts — signed contracts for at least nine years this offseason, while Carlos Correa initially signed a 13-year deal with the San Francisco Giants and then a 12-year deal with the New York Mets before issues with his physical ended both agreements and he re-signed with the Minnesota Twins for six years.

Whether the Cubs have an appetite to wade into that level of long-term contracts will be left up to Hoyer and baseball operations if they want to take that path, Ricketts said.

“It’s just really important that you go into that with eyes wide open,” he said. “Just by definition in free agency, you’re kind of paying largely for past performance. If they can maintain that performance for the first half of their contract, then it’s of value, but you can’t expect them to maintain that performance for 11 years. You’ve got to always keep that in mind.”

The Cubs’ opening-day payroll will be more in line with their top spending years (2016-19) after committing nearly $292 million to seven players this offseason.


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