Tuesday, Feb. 8, 20117:30 p.m.
By David Kaplan
While the Cubs 2010 payroll red-lined at 145 million for a team that was out of contention most of the season, the 2011 budget looks to be as much as 15 million lower.
However, don't look for the the Ricketts family to be spending less to improve the team; rather they are reallocating funds in different areas. While they did approve the signings of first baseman Carlos Pena and reliever Kerry Wood and a trade for starter Matt Garza, they are much more focused on building up the organization's player development system as well as the infrastructure of the team from a new spring training facility to a major overhaul of Wrigley Field.
Sources in the Dominican Republic have confirmed to me that the Ricketts' recently traveled to the D.R. to scout potential locations for a brand new, state-of-the-art Cubs baseball academy to develop young players in one of the richest talent bases in the world.
The cost for a new academy will be several million dollars, but the family's goal is to build the best training and development facility anywhere in Latin America. Tom Ricketts has been talking with several well-connected people in the Dominican real estate market and is prepared to buy a large parcel of land to house the complex.
The Cubs currently have a facility located in Boca Chica, but it is considered outdated and lacking in resources to complete the vision that the family has for the Cubs organization. The trip to the D.R. which included a stop at the funeral for Alfonso Soriano's mother is the second that the Ricketts have taken since purchasing the club in October 2009.
David Kaplan is the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.