Still, there is always turnover in baseball, and it appears that left fielder Moises Alou and starting pitcher Matt Clement will seek work elsewhere. The North Siders need to figure out if they will be able to afford shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and whether they want to keep second basemen Mark Grudzielanek or Todd Walker.
They will keep an eye out for a closer after Joe Borowski missed four months of the season with a shoulder injury and replacement LaTroy Hawkins blew nine save opportunities.
While prospect Jason Dubois could be a candidate for left field, the Cubs could make a run at Houston free agent Carlos Beltran if they are able to trade away Sosa's $17 million salary.
This is general manager Jim Hendry's third offseason of wheeling and dealing, and he usually makes a flurry of deals in mid-December after coming back from the winter meetings. Sometimes he makes deals that even surprise him. Last year, he wasn't in the market for a first baseman, but when Lee became available, he pounced on the opportunity.
"You know the way we do business," Hendry said. "You can't foresee what's going to happen over the winter. If the opportunity unfolds to make us better, I'll pursue that."