ORLANDO -- The question of how the Chicago Cubs are going to be able to add a starting pitcher, reliever and run-producing first baseman is GM Jim Hendry's quandary going into the general manager meetings.
Hendry may have as little as $5 million in payroll flexibility going into this offseason. To Hendry's credit, he refuses to complain about payroll that may drop from $143 million in 2010 to $135 million in 2011.
"Tom Ricketts, Crane Kenney and I have had a few chats [on payroll]," Hendry said. "It's not a final number yet, but we've known for the last couple of months where we're going. The volume of payroll is not a negative or a detriment to winning. Other teams are winning with less.
"Payroll-wise we got ourselves into a spot where it went real high real fast. Sometimes those things lead to not being able to do everything you want to in an offseason. But it won't be a negative for us."
Hendry's creativity will be tested this offseason. Among the things they might want to do is trade Kosuke Fukudome, sign a Kerry Wood-type setup man and sign or trade for a starting pitcher. However with payroll constraints, the Cubs may decide to move Andrew Cashner from the bullpen into the rotation. Although Cashner is considered a two-pitch pitcher, he has a changeup that wasn't used during his time in the bullpen.
Without much money available, Hendry will have to be quick on his feet, possibly offering some of his minor-league talent to acquire a first baseman in a deal rather than spend the money on a free-agent first baseman. Hendry could also trade major league-level starting pitching for other teams' starting pitching.
My live chat from Orlando will start at noon CT Tuesday. You can submit questions here. Look forward to talking with a lot of you then.