Then they took a drastic step up on Thursday when beloved first baseman Anthony Rizzo was traded to the New York Yankees.
And it looks like Kris Bryant, closer Craig Kimbrel and maybe Javy Báez could also be moved.
Kimbrel is the most desirable bullpen arm "on the market" and according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs are sorting through plenty of offers for his services.
Jayson Stark reports that the Cubs are talking to at least 10 teams about Kimbrel. TEN. A third of the league is talking to the Cubs about trading for Kimbrel.
According to our own David Kaplan, the White Sox are among the suitors.
And there are multiple reports the Dodgers are still pursuing the closer hours before the deadline.
The Braves were one of those teams, but backed out of the bidding war.
Kimbrel has found his form after a rocky start to his Cubs tenure. This season Kimbrel has 23 saves and 0.49 ERA in 39 games. And in 36.2 innings, Kimbrel has a 64/13 K/BB ratio.