After working the phones late last night and today, it appears that the Cubs are going to be very busy this weekend trying to close a handful of deals that could accelerate the rebuilding process exponentially.
Team Theo and Co. are looking at a number of scenarios, with sources telling me this afternoon that a multi-team trade that would send Ryan Dempster to his preferred destination, the Los Angeles Dodgers while netting the Cubs a handful of prospects built around starting pitching is getting closer to happening.
A major league source confirmed to me that the Cubs were operating under the premise that Dempster strongly preferred Los Angeles but would consider a deal with the Atlanta Braves. After weighing offers from both teams, Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer went with the Atlanta deal which was superior to what Ned Colletti and the Dodgers were offering.
However, Dempster was not ready to write off a trade to LA and told the Cubs he was not ready to approve any deal other than with the Dodgers. The Braves, wanting a resolution quickly so that they had time to evaluate other options, then pulled the plug on the trade when Dempster was unwilling to make a decision according to their timetable.
Epstein reportedly was livid when the deal with the Braves fell through and it appears for good reason as a handful of scouts that I spoke with in other organizations felt that the Cubs had made a tremendous deal getting Randall Delgado for essentially a two-to-three month rental.
The Cubs have made it clear to other teams that they are open for business on almost anybody on the roster and are having extensive conversations with nearly every team in the playoff hunt.
Several players could play key roles on a contender and Cubs management is doing all they can to close a handful of deals to restock a farm system that was among the worst in the game when they took over, especially from a pitching standpoint.
Since Epsteins and Hoyers arrival, the Cubs have taken their minor-league system, which was ranked near the bottom just a year ago, and added several key pieces to it, including first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who is now the starter on the big league club.
Add in outfielder Jorge Soler, pitchers Gerardo Concepcion and Juan Carlos Paniagua and a very strong draft class, and you have the makings of the turnaround of the Cubs system.
In addition to the upgrade of the players in the system, the new front office also has the enormous undertaking of overhauling how the Cubs evaluate players, how they develop prospects in the minor league system and developing the Cubs Way of playing the game. Some of which is already becoming evident at the big league level in the Cubs defensive game plan and their approach to base running.
While the fan base is hopeful of major free agent signings next winter to accelerate the major league clubs turnaround, a former GM confirmed to me that is not the game plan he hears Epstein and Co. have drawn up.
The Cubs are a long way from contending and they will not be active in high-profile free agents for at least another year if not two. Theo has carte blanche from Tom Ricketts to spend a lot of money when he feels it is warranted but until he believes that the major league team is ready to take a big step up and contend, he is going to stick to his long term plan.
"Id look for a few more David DeJesus-type signings in the next off season. Fans who are expecting big names and big money deals will be disappointed, but I agree with what they are doing. That system was so badly broken and the organization so poorly constructed for a very long time that a complete tear down is the only way they can fix all of the problems, he told me.