Here's the kind of day it was around Wrigley Field on Monday: Ryan Dempster talked before the Cubs' 14-4 victory over the Pirates about possibly being traded.
By the time the game was over, three players were traded, none of them Dempster.
The Cubs could talk about only one of the deals because of various technicalities. They sent outfielder Reed Johnson, left-handed starting pitcher Paul Maholm and cash to the Atlanta Braves for minor-league right-handers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.
In the other deal, the Cubs are sending catcher Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers, reportedly for minor-league pitcher Jacob Brigham.
Well after 11 p.m., Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer addressed reporters.
"I think we've been really clear all along that we're not contending right now, and we need to take assets that are shorter term and turn them into longer-term assets," Hoyer said.
In Vizcaino, the Cubs are getting a 21-year-old who entered this season as the Braves' second-best prospect as ranked by Baseball America. However, he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in March and will miss this entire season. In his minor-league career, he has 279 strikeouts in 268 innings.
Chapman, 25, is 3-6 with 7 saves and a 3.53 ERA in 40 reliever appearances at Class AAA Gwinnett. He has struck out 60 in 53 innings.
Johnson has been a dependable backup outfielder for the Cubs. Maholm, who won Sunday, had turned into the team's winningest pitcher, with a record of 9-6 and an ERA of 3.74.
Maholm just turned 30, and the Cubs had a club option on him for next year, but they liked the upside in the two young pitchers.
"It was hard," Hoyer said of moving Maholm. "We did control him for next year, and that was a difficult decision. It probably came down to getting a 21-year-old with that kind of arm. I don't think we would have been able to get that kind of body if he (Maholm) was under control only for the next couple months."
The scene during the game was surreal, as players in the Cubs' dugout hugged their soon-to-be former teammates.
"I can't lie to you; it was the first time I ever went through that," said manager Dale Sveum
More deals could come by Tuesday's 3 p.m. nonwaiver trading deadline, with Dempster's name and that of pitcher Matt Garza very much in play.
Dempster used baseball terms to describe his situation Monday. His name has been "trending," as it were, since last week. He was asked if he expects to make his scheduled start Tuesday night for the Cubs.
"Well, I'm preparing for that, and we'll see if anything changes from there," he said. "Baseball is a game of adjustments, and if that's not the case, then I'll have to adjust and go from there. But for right now that's my goal, and that's what I'm trying to get ready for."
Dempster and the Cubs are engaged in a delicate dance because the pitcher has the final say-so on any trade involving him because of his veteran status. He used his right last week to veto a trade with Atlanta, but Hoyer said there was not ill feeling between the two teams.
Dempster denied there being any friction between him and the Cubs' front office.
"No, not at all," he said. "They've got a job to do. They're trying to do what's best for the Chicago Cubs, and I understand that. They've been really honest with me, it seems like. So I'm just trying to do what I can to continue to do my job as a player, and that's get ready to pitch. My focus is on that every day. Away from here, I try to block it out and kind of push forward and get ready because I've got a lot of season left.
"They've been great. No, I haven't asked them to communicate with me on an hourly basis. If they have anything that comes to fruition, just let me know, and make a decision from there. But nothing's been said in the last little while."