About two weeks before the July 30 trade deadline, the Chicago Cubs' brain trust started gathering at its Wrigley Field office and formulating the plan that would change the course of the franchise. The group was not simply going to be aggressive at the deadline. If everything went right, the organization was going to trade the three pillars of the Cubs' first championship in 108 years and the closer it had acquired in hopes of securing another.
That second title never came, and neither did the almost inevitable contract extensions that would have accompanied it, and so the foundation of what happened on the 30th -- the Cubs methodically dismantling themselves through trades of Craig Kimbrel, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant a day after they'd shipped out Anthony Rizzo -- was actually years in the making.
Still, as calculated as it was, as well as president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer and his small circle executed four major deals when other organizations couldn't gather the gumption to pull off one, the reverberations of the Cubs' deadline maneuverings felt like years-later aftershocks from the Big One of 2016. Even internally, it was impossible to stay completely stoic, with the witch's brew of emotions tied to this group of players and that team: elation followed by disappointment, joy coupled with sadness.
Baez, Bryant and Rizzo meant everything to the Cubs. And if all went well leading up to the deadline, they'll mean everything to the next iteration of the club, too, because a Chicago team that for years has drafted and developed poorly compared to its moneyed counterparts got an infusion of talent that, combined with the haul from the Yu Darvish trade, sets the stage for the Cubs' future.