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For the first time since 2007, the Cubs started the 2012 campaign with a team payroll under $100 million.
This allows them the option to trade for a player in the last year of his contract and re-sign to a long-term deal, or to make several offseason free-agent acquisitions.
With holes in the starting rotation, Eric Bedard, Francisco Liriano and Jason Marquis are all viable options that may be trade-affordable for the Cubs.
This is the first time in awhile the Cubs have had any breathing room in their payroll. Having survived payroll hell over the last several seasons, no team should better understand that just because you have money doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend it.
While it would be nice to make a big-splash free-agent signing, the focus should be on avoiding the high-payout long-term commitments similar to those made to Soriano.
Avoiding these should allow them to win soon and still have flexibility down the road.