Jim Hendry was packing up Thursday and heading home from the general managers meetings in California.
If there was a theme to this year's event, it was "to be continued."
For the Cubs, that continuation means the pursuit of right-handed pitcher Jake Peavy, whom the San Diego Padres are looking to trade.
"Actually, the meetings were very good," Hendry said before boarding his plane. "Every year is different, depending usually on when the free-agency signing period is. This year, people can't sign yet.
"If you recall two years ago in Naples (Fla.), we hit the ground running and signed (Mark) DeRosa right away and waited for (Neal) Cotts and had (Alfonso) Soriano almost done by the time we left. Whenever that (free-agent) date is a little later, it usually means the action is a little slower."
Hendry had several business and social meetings with Padres GM Kevin Towers, with whom he enjoys a good working relationship and has made deals with in the past.
Towers is looking to cut payroll, and Peavy is scheduled to make $63 million through 2012.
The 27-year-old Peavy also has a no-trade clause in his contract, but he has said he'll waive it to come to one of several teams, including the Cubs. One Internet report out early Thursday said the Cubs were the front-runners in the Peavy derby.
The Dodgers and Braves also have been mentioned as suitors for Peavy, who would prefer to stay in the National League so he can bat.
The Cubs believe they can get a deal done without involving a third team. The Padres are looking for young talent, and Cubs names out there have included lefty Sean Marshall, center fielder Felix Pie, infielder Ronny Cedeno and minor-league pitcher Jose Ceda, whom the Cubs obtained from the Padres in a July 2006 trade for infielder Todd Walker.
Ceda was a brief sensation in spring training this year, and no doubt the Padres wouldn't mind having him back.
Insiders say the Padres have thrown a host of other possibilities at the Cubs. Among the most attractive Cubs minor-leaguers are catcher Welington Castillo, third baseman Josh Vitters and pitcher Mitch Atkins.
Peavy was 10-11 with a 2.85 ERA this year for a poor Padres team. His WHIP (walks plus hits per 1 inning pitched) was a sparkling 1.18. For his career, Peavy is 86-62 with a 3.25 ERA.
The Peavy pursuit dovetails with the situation concerning Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, who has filed for free agency and can begin negotiating with other teams late next week.
The Cubs remain hopeful of retaining Dempster and keeping him in the rotation, possibly with Peavy and along with Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden, whom the Cubs obtained in July from Oakland.
But as is the case with closer Kerry Wood, Dempster appears ready to test the market after winning 17 games this year. It's possible he'll return to the Cubs for less money than he can get on the open market, but with several teams scurrying for pitchers, Dempster may get a huge offer from another team, putting the Cubs out of contention.
Speaking of that, it's highly unlikely the Cubs will be serious players for free-agent lefty CC Sabathia, who may command somewhere in the area of $100 million over several years after helping Milwaukee to the playoffs in the second half after his trade from Cleveland.