Epstein will be smiling on the South Side.
The honeymoon won't last long for Theo Epstein in Chicago. He takes over a fifth place franchise that has a lot of bloated contracts and a farm system that hasn't produced many good players.
There will be a lot of turnover to transform the Cubs into a winner, and here are 10 players who may soon be packing their bags in Chicago.
The once dominant closer caused a lot of sleepless nights in Chicago.
Marmol was once the most dominant closer in the National League. Those days may be over as he went through one of the worst seasons for any closer in the league. Jonathan Papelbon may be available in free agency and it would be just like Epstein to stick it to his former employers.
The once dominant right hander is a free agent.
Kerry Wood will likely go down as a cautionary tale of overtaxing young pitchers. He was effective when healthy this year, but like his former comrade Mark Prior, the "when healthy" tag will follow him forever. Cubs fans are tired of unfulfilled promise and Epstein likely won't stand for it either.
Zambrano will be the key to the offseason.
Baseball fans should find out what headache medication Epstein prefers and purchase stock in it. Zambrano will cause more headaches for Epstein than any player. He isn't wanted back in Chicago and teams around the league are extremely wary. He can try to get pennies on the dollar on the trade, he can cut him and eat the salary or he can roll the dice and bring back. Epstein is about to earn his money.
Dempster is solid, but he isn't worth the contract.
Ryan Dempster symbolizes where the Cubs are right now as a franchise. He isn't a bad pitcher by any stretch, but he has a bad contract. He should be able to find a new address, but what can Epstein get back if anything?
Epstein sent a thank you card to Ramirez for not exercising his option.
Ramirez is a free agent, so he is as good as gone. He was another Cub not earning his pay. He hit well in 2011, but he has been a butcher at third for years. He is definitely not an Epstein player and he will gladly take the 14 million plus and reinvest it elsewhere.
Pena could be the wild card of the postseason.
Carlos Pena is also a free agent, but he's a decent bargain. Epstein must decide whether to chase the Pujols/Fielder rainbow or go with good value here and spend elsewhere. This one will show where his mind is at.
Soriano can still mash when healthy.
Anyone else detecting a theme here? The Cubs are full of bad contracts and this is just one of them. Soriano has three more years left on his deal. It will be tough to move him, but unlike Zambrano, Epstein doesn't have to move him. Soriano is still capable of hitting 30 bombs a season, but he offers little else.
Soto has been a tease.
Geovany Soto has a world of talent, but he has disappointed more than living up to that potential. Soto might fetch something in a trade for a team that wants to try their hand at getting the most out of him. Soto may stay, but Epstein could see him as a big symptom of the disease.
Castro can hit, but he has a very shaky.
Whether you believe in advanced fielding metrics or not is immaterial. Epstein does and he won't like what he sees when he looks at Castro's numbers. Right now his value is about as high as it's ever going to be. It's time to sell high and buy low.
Mike Quade can't be blamed for last season, but he may get the axe.
Bill Parcell's once said that he wanted an opportunity to shop for the groceries. That analogy fits here too. Quade can hardly be blamed for the 2011 meltdown, but isn't going to help him either. Epstein will want his own guy in there and it could be Terry Francona.