Epstein has spent most of the week in his hotel room at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort as the Cubs try to find the next Scott Feldman, Ryan Sweeney or Dioner Navarro, all players who prospered with the team. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are interested in free-agent right-hander Roberto Hernandez, 33, who was 6-13 with a 4.89 ERA in 32 games (24 starts) last season with the Rays.
The Cubs do have starters Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta, but they are looking for more depth. The closer's job also is up for grabs.
Whatever transaction the Cubs make won't be "significant" in terms of a huge contract or headline-grabbing All-Star players, but it will be another step in the team's effort to build a healthy organization. While Cubs fans are eager for some news from the ol' Dolphin, Epstein and Co. are trying to stay patient with their plan.
To make an impact, Epstein said, teams need either massive amounts of payroll flexibility or a real surplus of above-average young players who are Major League ready or already making an impact in the big leagues, or both.
"If you look at the Cubs right now in December of 2013, we're not yet where we need to be in either of those areas," Epstein said. "We don't have lots of currency in either area, but we're going to. If we do our jobs and we continue to draft well and we develop well and we continue to acquire young players, we'll have a really sizable stable and build up enormous amounts of currency, which will allow us to do lots of things. Once those players get Major League ready, they're infinitely more valuable."
The Cubs do have potential impact players in the Minor Leagues in Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant. The $500 million Wrigley Field renovation plan received additional approval on Wednesday from the Chicago City Council. If all goes well, the business side and the player development side will be in sync, and the Cubs will have both forms of currency.
"I promise you when that happens, we'll be significantly more active," Epstein said. "We're on our way there, but we're not there yet."
There are no guarantees with the young players, and the Wrigley Field plan will take five years.
"We lack certainty with respect to the currency of young players, because development is not set in stone," Epstein said. "We'll see how long it takes certain players to get to the point where they can make an impact on the big leagues. I think I have a feel based on experience and collective experience ... but you can't pinpoint [when]."