MESA, Ariz. - Dexter Fowler came into the media room at the Cubs complex in Mesa, sat down, flashed a big-time grin and said, "Catfish!"
Theo Epstein followed a few minutes later, saying, "Surprise!"
That pretty much summed up what went down at Cubs camp Thursday morning.
The Cubs pulled off the shock of the spring, bringing back Fowler and parading him around in front of fans, media and the entire roster before Thursday's workout.
Nobody saw the move coming, especially because the news around the baseball world was Fowler had signed a three-year pact with the Baltimore Orioles.
Social media exploded only after reporters and fans realized what was happening on the practice field.
"It was really to give Dex his moments with his teammates," Epstein said. "His teammates and the desire to be part of this team, those are the driving reasons why he's back here.
"So what better way to introduce our newest player than to let him be embraced by his teammates?"
About an hour earlier, the Cubs had pulled off a trade with the Oakland A's, sending out Chris Coghlan - who played a prominent role in 2015 and figured to be a utility guy in 2016.
The Cubs appeared ready to start the season with Coghlan as their fourth outfielder, free agent prize Jason Heyward in center and Jorge Soler and Kyle Schwarber flanking him in the corner spots.
Even Epstein admitted the Cubs were "essentially done" with moves before Thursday.
It looked like the Cubs used up all their budget to sign Heyward, Ben Zobrist and John Lackey over the winter.
But the Coghlan deal cleared $4.8 million in salary and Fowler is in line for an $8 million base salary in 2016 and then a $9 million mutual option for 2017 or an opt-out of $5 million.
And with the market on Fowler moving so slowly, Epstein's front office pounced, even as it was reported Fowler signed a $33-35 million deal with the Orioles.
The Cubs stayed in touch with Fowler's agent, Casey Close, throughout the winter and were able to hammer out a deal this week after confirming the Orioles rumors were not accurate.
Epstein credited Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts and the business side with coming through on more resources to allocate to the payroll as the organization looks to end the 108-year championship drought.
"There's a lot of excitement about the team and our business side guys have done a great job capitalizing on that," Epstein said. "Tom and the whole Ricketts family understand the moment and where we're at.
"And what better time than now?"
Epstein also said the Cubs' budget for in-season moves remains unchanged.
The Cubs didn't have a true centerfielder (Heyward is a natural right fielder) before Fowler and now the addition of the veteran leadoff hitter gives the team plenty of options should injury or ineffectiveness strike.
Plus, Schwarber will see some time at catcher and both Fowler and Soler are not known for their durability (Fowler averaged 128 games a season from 2009-14; Soler missed 61 games last season).
"No matter how talented you are, it takes a tremendous amount of depth to get through the season," Epstein said. "I feel like that depth always comes in handy.
"If you don't jump on an opportunity in February, you might really regret it come May, when attrition starts throughout the course of the season."