The Chicago Cubs are a much different team than they were in 2011, and the changes are putting grins on the faces of Cubs fans everywhere.
The timeless expression "out with the old, in with the new" fits no team better than the Cubbies this winter, and more changes are sure to come.
Building a team that can sustain seasons of success is now the number one priority, but it will be no easy task. There is no denying the club is off to a good start. Clubhouse cancers are now gone, and the lackadaisical efforts and horrid contracts of some are soon to follow.
At the same time, Chicago is bringing in accomplished management, young talent and veteran role players who will help the cause of building for the future and building a foundation for successful baseball.
Here are the Chicago Cubs' five best offseason additions.
Adrian Cardenas is a name that most fans probably haven't heard before, but the Cubs caught a lucky break by snagging him from Oakland for nothing.
On Monday, Chicago claimed Cardenas off waivers and designated Blake DeWitt for assignment.
Cardenas, a 24-year-old infielder, had a great 2011 in AAA.
In 127 games, Cardenas hit .314 with five home runs, scored 70 times, drove in 51 runs and finished eighth in the Pacific Coast League with 154 hits.
Although Cardenas hasn't made his major league debut yet, he probably will in 2012. He has played left field, shortstop and at both corners of the infield. A utility player like Cardenas can only help the club.
He will definitely be an upgrade from non-factor DeWitt, who hit .265 in 121 games last year, after losing the starting job to Darwin Barney during spring training.
It's no surprise Anthony Rizzo made his way to the Chicago Cubs. GM Jed Hoyer had him in Boston and San Diego, and he has now brought him along again to the Windy City.
In return, the Cubs sent former top pick Andrew Cashner to the Padres.
While the ceiling on Rizzo is high and he's been a highly-touted prospect, the 6'3" first baseman hasn't looked great in the majors. In 2011, Rizzo batted just .141 in 49 games for San Diego.
However, the Cubs are hoping the switch to Chicago will be the spark he needs.
If things go well, Rizzo could eventually be the power bat Chicago desperately needs.
Unlike Rizzo and Cardenas, David DeJesus has established himself as a productive major leaguer.
DeJesus broke in with Kansas City during the 2003 season, and for most of his career he has hit around .300.
In 2011, DeJesus had a down year with the Oakland Athletics. He batted a career-low .240 in 131 games.
What kind of player the Cubs are getting will be a mystery until he actually plays, but I believe 2011 was a low point for DeJesus that he'll come back from.
For $5 million per year, the gamble is worth it. The Cubs are getting an experienced veteran outfielder who hustles, something Wrigley hasn't seen much of recently.
While Cuban stars Yoennis Cespedes and Jorge Soler have dominated the talks this winter, left-handed pitcher Gerardo Concepcion was a little under the radar.
Last week, the Cubs signed the 19-year-old to a multi-year deal worth $7 million.
With a little fine-tuning, Concepcion has the opportunity to become a great major league pitcher. His cross-body delivery is deceptive, and he has a low 90s fastball that works well with his curveball and changeup.
Stealing him from the many teams that were interested was a great move by Theo Epstein and the Cubs.
It is unknown how long it will take Concepcion to actually don the Chicago Cubs jersey, but when he does, Cubs fans should expect a show.
Chicago might have struck gold here.
With all of the trades and signings made by the Theo Epstein regime so far, it is easy to forget that Epstein was also an addition not too long ago.
Epstein was a successful GM in Boston, and, given time, he will bring success to Wrigleyville, as well.
If he somehow doesn't, this was still a great acquisition for the Cubs. An upgrade from Jim Hendry was much-needed and Chicago did just that. Epstein is proven, and he knows how to build a winner.
Hendry proved otherwise.
Right now, it's hard to deny that Epstein is Chicago's biggest addition this winter.
Steven Conklin is a contributing writer for the Bleacher Report and a student at the University of Central Missouri. He joined B/R in October 2011 and is currently a B/R intern. Any comments, questions or suggestions are more than welcome.