From the start, the Cubs told the Red Sox that Brett Jackson was untouchable in the Theo Epstein compensation negotiations that will now be mediated by commissioner Bud Selig.
More than three months later, the president of baseball operations has traded away two former first-round picks (Andrew Cashner and Tyler Colvin), as well as the first Cub from the 2009 draft class to reach the majors (DJ LeMahieu).
Clearly, Epstein has little attachment to the players he inherited, and that would have gone for just about anyone who took over at Clark and Addison.
That doesnt seem to bother Jackson, the dude from California who went to Berkeley and still plans to be a core player here.
All players are tradable at any time, Jackson said. That doesnt put me on edge. Its a business and theyre going to do the best for the organization. Colvin and LeMahieu are incredible players and are going to do great things for Colorado. (We) got a great player in Ian Stewart and Ive heard nothing but great things about him as a player and a person.
A lots unknown right now. We dont really know the people at the top yet, but we have a sense of what they can do (and) what they did in Boston and San Diego. That sense of excitement is there and weve been looking for that (in) Chicago.
Listening to Jackson last week at the Cubs Convention, it wasnt hard to picture him standing in front of his locker at Wrigley Field, looking into the cameras and taking the heat off his teammates.
The 31st overall pick in the 2009 draft wants to make the team out of camp, and hell be a good story in spring training, but the Cubs wont rush their 23-year-old outfielder. Sometime this summer would be a better guess.
While the industry likes fast-tracking prospects from the Double-A level, Epstein has said that he views Triple-A as a valuable step for player development.
The Cubs have also rationalized several offseason trades by pointing out how theyre acquiring years of club control, so its doubtful that theyd want Jacksons major-league service time to start ticking in April.
Jackson went on to Team USA after a 2011 season split between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. He said thats how the game should be played: Deep into October.
Combined Jackson hit .274 with 20 homers and 58 RBI last season in the minors. He posted a .379 on-base percentage and stole 21 bases. He also struck out 138 times in 512 plate appearances.
He plays the game hard, assistant general manager Randy Bush said. He does a lot of things the right way, the way that Theo and (general manager Jed Hoyer) have talked about (how) they want it done.
Hes still relatively young in terms of at-bats in the minor leagues (1,133). He knows he needs to get better in certain areas and hes working hard at that. Well all know when the time is right. His performance will tell us that.
Jackson may never emerge as an All-Star or hit 30 bombs a year in the majors. But people whove tracked his development describe him as the type of athletic, well-rounded player Epstein likes.
This front office will create space for players who can impact a game in several ways defensively, running the bases and working the count and will be looking for new clubhouse leadership.
In the past, the Cubs had hoped that Jacksons personality would rub off on his good friend Josh Vitters, so that the third overall pick in the 2007 draft would feel the same sense of urgency.
All Brett wants to do (is) be a great player in the big leagues, said Dave Keller, a longtime hitting instructor in the Cubs organization. I always joke around with him, because right after he signed we were in Boise. Hed been there like three days. I got done throwing to his group and were all out there picking up balls for the next group.
(Hes exhaling and is) a little bit frustrated and excited about his BP round. He goes: Man, I just got to get to the big leagues.
You dont hear that with guys that just signed (and) go to Boise (or) Arizona (or) the rookie-ball season. (You) dont hear them saying that.
You will be hearing a lot about Jackson, who has some swagger and could push center fielder Marlon Byrd and his expiring contract toward a contending team at some point.
Jackson heard about the rave reviews the new Cubs executives are getting as rock stars, and said everyones excited to see what kind of show they put on. Theres no doubt that he wants to be a part of it.