Lou Piniella‘s little buddy Ken Rosenthal reported today over his twitter that Cubs SP Ryan Dempster has agreed to defer three million dollars of his $12.5M 2010 salary at little or no interest, in order to allow the Cubs the financial flexibility necessary to make a deadline deal.
This has some similarities to the restructuring of Scott Rolen‘s contract last December. In that case, the upside of the money lost due to inflation was a contract extension. In this case, the only upside for Dempster appears to be a Cubs team that is improved through a trade. This story is still in its infancy, so we may see some details change before all is said and done. The MLBPA may attempt to oppose this, as players aren’t simply allowed to take pay cuts, and given inflation, this is simply a loophole around that rule.
After today’s loss, the Cubs are now 23-26 and five games out of a playoff spot. They’re certainly not dead, although they are running out of time. With Aramis Ramirez ineffective and possibly injured, they could need a third baseman. Mike Fontenot has performed well this season, but much of that is based on a .352 BABIP, and so second base may also be a point of upgrade. The bullpen has been the main issue for the Cubs, as their relievers have allowed a 4.80 ERA. Both FIP and xFIP suggest that the group has been much better, but John Grabow has been remarkably ineffective and Carlos Zambrano will return to the rotation soon, so the most likely trade target for the Cubs would appear to be for a reliever to pick up the 8th inning behind Carlos Marmol.
The Cubs already had a 144 million dollar payroll entering this season, so it appears that, at this point, they are either unwilling to go over that amount or the option that they are targeting is expensive enough as to push them over a higher hypothetical limit. If the Cubs do acquire an important piece and end up making the playoffs as a result, Cubs fans will owe Ryan Dempster many thanks.