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Cubs getting payroll where they want it

Updated: April 10, 2012 10:30AM

MESA, Ariz. — Because they’re paying Carlos Zambrano to pitch for another team and have $7 million tied up in 2012 commitments to Carlos Pena and Carlos Silva, the Cubs probably will have the highest payroll in the National League Central again.

But after an offseason without a marquee signing, general manager Jed Hoyer’s comments on his first day with the team can be heard in the background as the Cubs’ Opening Day payroll comes into focus.

‘‘Relying on external solutions to build a winning baseball team is a bad idea and something we need to get past,’’ he said in November. ‘‘The key to free agency is to make sure you’re always paying for future performance. There’s no reason to pay for someone’s resume.’’

On Monday, the Cubs announced they’ve signed all the pre-arbitration players on the roster, putting everyone in camp under contract.

The 25-man Opening Day roster figures to come in at a little more than $111 million, the club’s lowest figure since 2007 ($99.7 million).

More telling, the money actually being paid to players on the opening roster should wind up right around $89 million, the Cubs’ lowest since 2005. It’s also less than that of the small-market Minnesota Twins and Cincinnati Reds and mid-market Colorado Rockies and Seattle Mariners.

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Catcher Geovany Soto is nearly fully recovered from a mild groin strain that has slowed him for more than a week. Manager Dale Sveum said he expects Soto to play in a game by.

‘‘He’ll probably be ready to go [earlier], but we’ll put him through a few more tests before we do that,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘Thank God it was just a minor little twinge and we got a grip on it early in camp.’’


Among the pre-arbitration players signed was Jeff Samardzija, who received $2.64 million after the Cubs turned down the $3 million option on his contract.

Starlin Castro ($567,000), James Russell ($512,500), Travis Wood ($505,000) and Darwin Barney ($500,000) were among the players signed.

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