Meetings veteran Epstein ready to work

Meetings veteran Epstein ready to work

SAN DIEGO -- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is a veteran of the Winter Meetings. What does he expect this week in San Diego at baseball's annual gathering, which begins Monday?

"A typical Winter Meetings -- the ratio of talk-to-action will be about 50-to-1," Epstein said.

Cubs fans are eagerly hoping that ratio is reversed. The team did make its big splash in early November by signing free-agent manager Joe Maddon, but the Cubs' contingent heads to San Diego with some items remaining on its to-do list.

The Cubs want to add at least one starting pitcher, and met with free agent Jon Lester in mid-November. But the Red Sox made a push Saturday when team owner John Henry flew to Atlanta to meet with the left-hander. The Giants and Dodgers also have been in negotiations with Lester's agents.

The Cubs have payroll flexibility, helped by not spending all of their budget last offseason. But Epstein also has set limits on how far he'll go. What helps the Cubs approach is having cost-controlled young talent on the roster.

"We're not the Dodgers, we're not the Yankees, but there are still plenty of things we can do and a lot of resources at our disposal, and we're not going to complain about it," Epstein said.

They will be looking for some left-handed bats, players who get on base and who bring experience to the young roster.

"We have plenty of swing-and-miss [hitters], we don't need more of that, so finding bats that are contact-type bats and can get the bat on the ball, that's important to us," Epstein said.

Maddon will meet with the media on Tuesday. Who knows? Maybe he'll offer to buy everyone a round as he did at his introductory news conference.

Stay tuned to for updates throughout the Winter Meetings. On Thursday, the Cubs will have the eighth pick in the Rule 5 Draft. Could they find another Hector Rondon?

Right now, Epstein is looking for players to get the Cubs to the next level.

"We're competing now, and when you're competing, the goal is to win the division," Epstein said. "It doesn't necessarily mean you're all in for 2015 at all costs and you'll sacrifice the continued health and growth of the organization to sell out for one season, but it means we're trying to win and we're out there aggressively trying to acquire players to help us get better and win."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.