Jon Lester, David Price and Jeff Samardzija, the three biggest stars of MLB's sweeps month, were last seen together in the American League clubhouse at the All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
If everything goes according to plan, they all will be on the same field again in October when the Athletics and Tigers square off in the American League Championship Series.
But if the collapse and rebirth and demise of the Red Sox from 2012-14 has taught us anything, it's to never assume in baseball. With that in mind, I asked the three pitchers at the All-Star Game if they eventually could wind up playing for the Cubs when they become free agents, knowing the possibility was slim but assuming nothing.
Not surprisingly, Samardzija, who had just been traded from the Cubs to the A's, said he would have no problem returning in 2016 if the Cubs were interested in making a valid offer.
"I enjoyed my times there, had tons of fun and wish it ended differently and we competed for championships, but that's the way it goes sometimes," he said. "The best thing about it is there are no hard feelings (with Cubs' management). We left on a good note and we'll see what happens in a year-and-a-half. I was just glad to have it done because there was so much speculation for so long and it was just wearing on me."
Next up was Lester, the Red Sox's ace who on Thursday became Samardzija's teammate in Oakland. Lester, a free agent after this year, admitted he had only a vague knowledge of Cubs president Theo Epstein's rebuilding plan.
"I don't really pay attention," Lester said. "Obviously when they come to town you hear a little more about it, and you hear about stuff with Samardzija and that trade (for prospects). But until the guys get to the big leagues and start putting up numbers, you don't pay attention to it too much.
"Those are questions I don't like to answer — predicting the future. I will say Chicago is a great city. I like visiting there."
Price, traded Thursday from the Rays to the Tigers, ignored a media relations employee's attempt to end the interview so he could clarify a comment he made the previous day. Yes, it would be "cool" to win with the Cubs, but no, he wasn't lobbying to go there as a free agent in 2016.
"That'd probably be the coolest place to win a World Series, only because most people who are still breathing have not seen the Cubs win," Price said. "I think anybody in this clubhouse would probably agree that would be the coolest place to win a World Series."
The Cubs assuredly won't win a World Series this season, and chances are none of the three will wind up with them. But as the winners and losers at the trading deadline can attest, you just never know:
Billy Beane: He may never be called a genius, but the A's' general manager is baseball's biggest risk-taker, acquiring big-name players he knows he won't be able to re-sign for one shot at the Big Kahuna. If it doesn't work, maybe he'll just flip Samardzija at the winter meetings and try again.
Tigers: With 85-year-old owner Mike Ilitch desperately wanting to win a World Series before his time on earth is up, the Tigers may be the closest thing to the old George Steinbrenner Yankees with stars like Miguel Cabrera, Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and now Price.
MLB Network: The trade deadline has changed a bit since my first one in 1987 when the Tribune sent me to South Holland to cover a news conference on the front lawn of Steve Trout's mother's house. Now MLB Network covers the deadline like election night and some players, including Lester and Price, send out tweets shortly after the trade becomes official. It's great theater at the deadline and the network's diverse cast of East Coast sportswriters keeps it interesting.
Ben Cherington: When the World Series champions turn into lemons, all you can do is make some lemonade. Boston's GM did the best he could with his first fire sale and the Red Sox could be back in contention in 2015.
David Price: He finally gets to pitch in front of a packed house, the way it ought to be.
Ruben Amaro: The GM couldn't pull a Cherington and disassemble the "Wheeze Kids," the Phillies' modern-day version of the "Whiz Kids." Poor Ryne Sandberg.
Yoenis Cespedes: Going from the A's to the Red Sox is a big-time downer for a budding star who was very popular in Oakland. Now he will be in David Ortiz's shadow, playing for a lackluster team on the road to nowhere.
Rays fans: They only have themselves to blame for management's decision to trade Price. They are dead last in attendance with just more than 17,000 per home game and offer a good argument for relocation.
Jim Bowden: The former GM and current radio personality tweets inaccurate trade information allegedly pilfered from a fake account, then deletes his own account and claims he was hacked. Maybe his worst day since trading Paul O'Neill to the Yankees.
Blue Jays: Do something … anything.