By Matt Snyder
Once thought to be more of a longshot to get in the bidding on any significant free agent signings, the Cubs are now in on the Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder sweepstakes, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
One of the reasons it was widely thought the Cubs weren't going to go major on the free agent market is because the team isn't exactly just one or two players away from a World Series. One of the major tasks at hand for new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer is building a strong, youthful foundation, and that means patience.
The report also notes the Cubs prefer Pujols, despite being several years older, because he's a more well-rounded player -- factoring in defense and baserunning.
Even if the Cubs don't sign either player, their involvement in any bidding is a huge deal. With the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies out, the Cubs can likely outpay any other team, if they so choose. Yes, there are already some big contracts on the books, but more than $50 million has dropped off the Cubs' player payroll from last season and only Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano are signed through 2013. Basically, if the Cubs want, they can blow everyone else out of the water. If not, they've at least driven up the price for other teams.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.