Offseason money issues are even affecting big-market teams such as the Chicago Cubs.
With a projected $140 million payroll, general manager Jim Hendry was in a position where he had to move peripheral arbitration-eligible players in order to find money for veterans such as reliever John Grabow, who is expected to sign a two-year, $7.5 million contract by the end of the weekend.
Hendry moved veteran right-hander Aaron Heilman to the Arizona Diamondbacks for two minor-leaguers. Heilman made $1.6 million in 2009 and was on schedule to make at least $2.2 million in arbitration for the 2010 season.
"The way our big-league club sets up, we have a lot of arbitration-eligible guys," Hendry said. "We needed to move some payroll a little bit. We always liked Aaron Heilman, even back in his days with the Mets, but we believe we have some young arms that can take his place in that part of the bullpen."
Hendry must pony up raises to closer Carlos Marmol and shortstop Ryan Theriot, two of the five arbitration-eligible players on the Cubs. Theriot and Marmol will probably be in the $2-3 million area. Another arbitration-eligible player, infielder Mike Fontenot, may not make it to arbitration with the Cubs because of money constraints. The team could trade or non-tender Fontenot.
It would not be incorrect to say that some of the money saved in the Heilman trade will go toward Grabow's contract, which will increase about $1 million a year.