Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts sent an open letter to Cubs fans after the team ended a six-year streak of winning seasons.
Ricketts acknowledged the roller-coaster season that was 2021. Fans had high hopes for a team that won its third NL Central title in a five-year span in 2020. The Cubs were seemingly on their way to fulfill those expectations as fans saw first-place baseball deep into June.
But an 11-game losing streak quickly sank any hopes of another division championship or playoff appearance and by the time the calendar hit late July, the Cubs were firmly sellers.
Lovable players that were key to the team's 2016 championship run were traded as Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Javy Baez all left the Friendly Confines. The Cubs were well on their way to their worst season since 2013.
Cubs "Will Have Resources"
Cubs fans are some of the most die-hard in all of sport and the taste of success experienced over the last half-decade will certainly leave much to be desired after a 71-win season in 2021.
Tom Ricketts was quick to note the ballclub will "have the resources to compete in 2022 and beyond, and will use them. We will be active in free agency and continue to make thoughtful decisions to bolster our team this offseason."
After the departure of key cornerstone players, the Cubs will have a significant amount of financial wiggle-room to sign top players. The club's 2022 payroll is only ~$58 million. Taking into account all tax allocations, the Cubs have an estimated tax space of nearly $134 million in 2022 before hitting the luxury tax.
This means there is simply no excuse for the Ricketts not to spend. The team has only two players (Jason Heyward and Kyle Hendricks) making more than $10 million in 2022. There are plenty of high-profile free agents the club could target.
In addition to Rizzo, Bryant, and Baez potentially returning to the North Side, Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Marcus Stroman, and Noah Syndergaard are available players that the Ricketts family could potentially bring to Wrigley.
The decline of the Cubs since the 2016 championship team, combined with the unwillingness to spend in free agency over the last couple of seasons, has resulted in a fractured relationship between the Ricketts family and Cubs fandom.
Only concrete attempts to sign top-tier free agents will begin repairing this relationship as the Cubs fans simply demand one thing: winning baseball at the Friendly Confines.