But they had already signed pitchers Scott Feldman and Scott Baker and agreed to terms with Japanese reliever Kyuji Fujikawa before the meetings began, so it doesn't really matter when they make their moves, only what those moves are.
And judging by the players they added, the Cubs are going to lose a lot of games again. A lot. But that should come as no surprise. They've made their intentions clear enough: Strip the team all the way down, stockpile talent throughout the organization, develop it and then use it to win and as assets to acquire specific needs when they turn the corner.
The debate over this strategy is a good one. Should the Cubs try to win and rebuild at the same time as many large market teams do?
There may simply not be a right answer. Even if the Cubs turn the corner and have some sustained success after a few 100-loss seasons, it doesn't mean they couldn't have done it the other way as well. We'll never know. What we do know is this is their plan, and it will have a definitive outcome in the coming years.
And it's also why people keep telling me senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod is the most important person in the organization right now. It comes down to finding young talent wherever it may be. That's McLeod's job. If he fails then the whole plan fails.
So when general manager Jed Hoyer says, in discussing last season, what's the difference between 93, 95 or 101 losses, he's right. It all represents the same thing -- a bad team. But take that a step further. What's the difference between 101 losses and just one more loss than the last wild card team? You're still home for the playoffs.
If it means the Cubs are on the verge of sustained success then being that close to the wild card makes sense. But if it's just a one- or even two-year anomaly -- as we've seen may times in the past -- then what's the point? The odds are the Cubs will continue to come up short.
Here's the bottom line: As long as the Cubs sign middle of the road players to cheaper contracts then we know that Hoyer, president Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts don't have high hopes for the upcoming season. When they start to expand that free agent list or make some bold trades then we'll know that they believe they've turned the corner and can contend.
And if they do nothing but draft players and "develop" them for 4-5 years then we'll know they're just in it for the loads of money coming in off television deals.
We're on Year 2 of a rebuilding phase. It's still too early to make an assessment. But we're a year closer to doing so.