The Cubs have been one of the more benevolent organizations in professional sports when it comes to the treatment of departing employees over the last year.
They fired former general manager Jim Hendry on July 22, 2011, but let him stay on the job another month until he signed all his draft picks. In May, they granted Kerry Wood's request to make one final appearance in a game at Wrigley Field after Wood announced in the morning he was retiring.
And in one of the more bizarre moves yet, former starter Ryan Dempster was allowed to listen in on phone conversations between president Theo Epstein and the Dodgers on Tuesday as they unsuccessfully tried to convince Los Angeles to trade a significant prospect for the Cubs' veteran.
The new normal at Wrigley?
"Some things are better left unsaid," Epstein said with a grin. "It was an unusual situation. But I think it as helpful to have him there so he could hear first-hand that (the Dodgers deal) wasn't going to happen.
"If someone wants to really go to a place, you can tell him over and over it's not going to happen. But unless they're convinced of that, they're not going to want to move on to their second choice."
Epstein gave a detailed explanation of the Dempster trade saga, confirming that Dempster was informed of the possibility of being traded to Atlanta 2-3 days before the deal was leaked to the media.
Epstein said Dempster shouldn't be criticized for using his 10-and-5 rights to veto the trade, but conceded it hurt the team's leverage in talks with the Dodgers, who weren't budging. The Cubs wound up getting a lesser deal from Texas, acquiring two Class-A prospects.
"It created a market of one up until about 15 minutes to go (before Tuesday's trade deadline)," Epstein said. "That's just the nature of 10-5 rights. It allows a player to say 'I won't be traded, period.' And Ryan didn't do that.
"They allow a player to say 'I'll go anywhere you want.' They allow a player to say 'This is my preferred destination. I want you do everything you can to work out a deal there. And if you absolutely can't, at the last minute maybe I'll consider other places.' "
So Dempster stuck with the longshot of going to L.A., and the Cubs paid the price. Dempster said he never said "no" to the Atlanta deal because he didn't get a chance before the trade was all over the Internet. Epstein said that was not totally correct.
"He didn't technically say 'no,' " Epstein said. "He said 'No, not now. I'm not going to go to Atlanta before I see about L.A.' And Atlanta, very reasonably, didn't want to wait around and risk not getting a pitcher."
Epstein conceded Dempster had little time to make a decision once the trade was leaked, and everyone was analyzing it on web sites and Twitter.
"Ryan never got the opportunity, for, I'd say, more than an hour, to fully contemplate Atlanta with a deal actually in place," Epstein said. "I feel for him. All of a sudden, instead of having time to contemplate it privately, he had everyone telling him what to do, everyone asking him questions about it, and it became a nuisance for him.
"I think it's really hard to criticize Ryan. I think it's unfortunate. But he certainly wasn't blindsided because we had been telling him
for days that Atlanta was a very likely destination and we were going to have to make a final decision."