Tough, but fair

Cubs' payroll in '10 will be similar to '09's; ticket prices are likely to rise

October 28, 2009, 2:50 PM

By: Bruce Levine

The news is almost all good for Chicago Cubs fans with the team now in possession of new owner and chairman of the board Tom Ricketts.

Ricketts will start the process of revealing his long-term and short-term plans on Friday with a news conference at Wrigley Field, where he'll begin his one-on-one interviews with the press followed by a full day of TV and radio one-on-ones.

Hard facts of a turbulent economy and a veteran-laden roster dictate some economic concessions from the fans and baseball operations in 2010, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

A slight raise in ticket prices can not be avoided as built-in costs and spending projections continue to mount. Over the past two seasons under Sam Zell and tribune Co., ticket prices increased over 30 percent across the board. That amount included a 23 percent raise after the 2008 season.

Ticket prices were frozen for 2007 after a horrendous season in which the Cubs lost over 90 games.

According to major league sources, the Cubs' payroll will be locked in at close to $140 million, the same that was spent in 2009.

In order for the team's baseball operations department to have flexibility with this payroll, the Cubs will have to be creative and make trades that ware in the framework of the $140 million figure.

General manager Jim Hendry and his baseball department have been working on trades with Tampa, Toronto and three or four other clubs with players with big contracts that they would like to move.

A Milton Bradley-for-Pat Burrell trade has been on the table for three weeks.

Toronto will talk to anyone who will take outfielder Vernon Wells off its hands. Wells has a multi-year contracts that pays close to $15 million per year.

Toronto at some point will be looking at moving ace right-hander Roy Halladay. It's unknown at this point if the Cubs will be involved. Halladay is one season from free agency.

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