Regardless of where Justin Verlander ultimately hoped he'd end up, the Cubs didn't consider themselves to be serious players in the veteran pitcher's market this August.
The waiver deadline passed Thursday with the Cubs only making one move - acquiring outfielder Leonys Martin as a pinch-runner/defensive replacement type of guy.
Verlander, meanwhile, went to the Houston Astros, with the Detroit Tigers receiving three prospects in return.
The Cubs have been one of the teams linked to Verlander in rumors for months and while they did check in on him even after the nonwaiver trade deadline passed on the first day of August, GM Jed Hoyer said they never even got to the point where they discussed untouchable prospects with the Tigers.
"Houston was pretty aggressive early on," Hoyer said Friday morning at Wrigley Field. "They didn't make a big starting pitching deal at the deadline, so I think they were aggressive with their offer right away.
"Detroit kinda liked that offer all along. I think they were pretty focused on Houston all along. Because of that, because they had a deal they liked that they sat on for a bunch of weeks, we never got deep into it. In the end, I think it worked out for Detroit and for Houston. But I think that was gonna be the result for almost the entire month."
At best, Hoyer described the Cubs' interest as a fallback option.
"Early on, they had a deal on the table that was really appealing to them that their process was run with that in mind," Hoyer said.
The 34-year-old veteran has rebounded after a rough start to the season and is now 10-8 with a 3.82 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 176 strikeouts in 172 innings. He finished second in AL Cy Young voting last year with a 16-9 record, 3.04 ERA and league-leading 1.00 WHIP.
Verlander also has two full years and around $60 million left on his current contract with a vesting option for his age-37 season in 2020.
The Cubs are in a totally different position now than they were a month ago when the Verlander rumors were hot and heavy.
The starting rotation has keyed the second-half surge with Kyle Hendricks regaining health and production while Jake Arrieta once again looks like his Cy Young self. John Lackey has also been better since the All-Star Break, tossing seven shutouts in Friday's 2-0 win over the Braves.
Even the Jon Lester injury proved to be minor as the Cubs ace makes his return Saturday against the Atlanta Braves. Assuming Lester's start goes off without a hitch, the Cubs are at the point where they're seriously considering keeping Mike Montgomery as a starter (he'll get the ball Sunday) and rolling with a six-man rotation.
And with the Jose Quintana deal coupled with the prior trade with the Tigers for Justin Wilson and Alex Avila, the Cubs don't have much in the way of enticing prospects left to deal, even if the Verlander talks with Detroit never advanced to that stage.
So Verlander wound up with the team with the best record in the American League over the defending World Champs, even if the Cubs were his first choice.