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Most Cubs fans agree that something has to be done regarding the mammoth contracts of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. Combined they are scheduled to make $38 million in 2012, which is a lesson in how not to run a front office.
With speculation both contracts could be effectively bought out in return for unseasoned minor league players, this move accomplishes multiple goals stated by Epstein regarding the future of the Chicago Cubs.
By getting rid of your two biggest non-performers and replacing them, in essence, with two of the best clutch hitters in baseball, you've bettered the team in the present.
With whatever prospects come from unloading these two, you restock a farm system in order to build for the future.
With $38 million off the payroll (The buyouts must be considered a sunk cost and have no bearing on payroll.), along with $10 million off the payroll without Carlos Pena, you've covered the cost of your two biggest superstars while maintaining a payroll close to your 2011 number, which, if you'll remember, helped the team finish fifth in the NL Central.