With a nod toward the tough economy, baseball's general managers will give up opulence and luxury for practicality when they convene for their annual meetings, beginning today at O'Hare.
Instead of resorts, golf games and lavish dinners, the GMs figure barely to see the sunshine as they hole up at the nation's hub airport for a quick gathering that will end at about noon Wednesday.
In addition to the regular business discussions and undoubtedly more talk of instant replay, the GMs figure to mix in a little trade talk.
White Sox GM Kenny Williams already has struck, dealing young infielders Chris Getz and Josh Fields to the Royals last week for third baseman Mark Teahen.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry is still trying to sort through several issues.
"Surprisingly, there has been more conversation throughout the playoffs and World Series than I ever remember," Williams said. "To be able to do something prior to the general managers meetings and have substantial talks ... is surprising but certainly welcome to me.
"We've done our groundwork quite some time ago."
Williams admitted last week that the Sox aren't likely to keep outfielder Scott Podsednik, whose demands may be too high for his club. So Williams may be looking at adding an outfielder, but he also said youngster Jordan Danks is "certainly making it interesting and giving reason to pause as to whether we go out there and be aggressive with a veteran-type guy or not."
Danks has been tearing it up in the Arizona Fall League, and he could provide the Sox with a low-cost option. Williams also cited Mark Kotsay being able to go between first base and the outfield.
As for the Cubs, Hendry suddenly is facing pitching issues, what with Rich Harden having filed for free agency and Ted Lilly set to open the 2010 season on the disabled list after having arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder last week.
Harden, who made 26 big-league starts this year, has a history of shoulder problems, and mainly for that reason, it's hard to see the Cubs offering him salary arbitration and bringing him back for $8 million to $10 million for one year.
Not to be forgotten is that Hendry still is trying to unload right fielder Milton Bradley, whom he suspended for conduct detrimental to the team with two weeks left in the 2009 season.
Bradley has two years and $21 million left on the three-year, $30 million deal Hendry gave him last January.
One interesting scenario has new Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos indicating he'd be open to trading ace pitcher Roy Halladay, who becomes a free agent next fall after he's scheduled to make $15.75 million in 2010.
Halladay has a no-trade clause in his contract, but he's said he'd like to play for a contender, and the Cubs seem closer to getting back to the playoffs than do the Blue Jays. To get Halladay, the Cubs must move money.
Could Hendry package Bradley and prospects for Halladay? Bradley could thrive in the relatively quiet environs of Toronto, and Halladay would provide an instant jolt to the Cubs' rotation.
A deal isn't likely this week, but GM meetings can be the place to put the wheels in motion. Hendry and assistant GM Randy Bush will be heading to O'Hare fresh off the team's organization meetings in Arizona.
"We were very pleased with the way the organization meetings went," Hendry said Sunday. "We had a chance to meet the Ricketts family, and we feel they are going to be tremendous owners for the city of Chicago.
"Randy and I are working to make the club better, and maybe we can start some of that dialogue this week."