The winter meetings kick off Sunday in Orlando, but expect the Cubs to make some news Thursday when they likely will "tender" contracts to all of their players.
Major League Baseball and the players association recently agreed to move up the tender deadline from the middle of December to Dec. 2. Players not offered contracts by Dec. 2 become free agents.
The Cubs have six players not eligible for six-year free agency but eligible for salary arbitration: catchers Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill, infielder Jeff Baker and pitchers Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol and Tom Gorzelanny.
Realistically, the only players who had a chance to be "non-tendered" were Baker and Hill, but the Cubs apparently feel they can work out reasonable deals with both to avoid arbitration.
Marshall, Marmol and Soto will be in line for nice raises this winter after good seasons in 2010.
The Cubs have made no significant player moves this off-season, but things could heat up significantly within the next 10 days, with the free-agent market being completely established and the winter meetings set to begin.
A left-handed hitting first baseman, a starting pitcher and a reliever top the wish list of Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, who has said he'll explore both the trade and free-agent markets.