With less than two hours before baseball's non-waiver trade deadline, the Cubs traded pitcher Ted Lilly, second baseman Ryan Theriot and cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielder Blake DeWitt and two pitching prospects.
The Cubs sent $2.5 million in the deal, saving roughly half of what is owed to Theriot and Lilly combined on the remainder of contracts that run through this season.
Because DeWitt, 24, doesn't reach arbitration eligibility until after next season, the Cubs also figure to save $3 million or more on next season's payroll, given the difference between DeWitt's projected salary range and what Theriot might make through arbitration.
``Honestly, this is a tough concept to grab right now,'' said Lilly, who was originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1996 before being traded as a minor leaguer. ``It's not something that I'm overly excited about, because ... I'm just going to miss a lot.
``Short of winning a World Series here, I couldn't have asked for a better experience in my career. I couldn't have asked for a better place to play, teammates to play with, fans to play for. All the way from the coaching staff to the front office. ...
``I really enjoyed my experience all the way around. I'm going to never forget the times that I had here. ...
``But I think that when I go over there and I put a Dodger uniform on and I meet my new teammates and I go out and start competing with them, I'll really enjoy it.''
Lilly says he'd be open to returning to the Cubs as a free agent after this season.
``I wouldn't close the door to that,'' general manager Jim Hendry said.
The player-exchange framework of this deal was in place in recent days, according to sources, with the sticking point being the cash amount.
The lefty-hitting DeWitt, who's batting .270 this season, hits especially well against the Cubs' National League Central opponents (.341, including .429 in 21 at-bats against St. Louis).
The Cubs also got a pair of minor-league right-handers in the deal. Kyle Smit, 22, is a former fifth-round draft pick recently promoted to AA, who has a 0.72 ERA in his past 10 appearances.
They also got Class A righty Brett Wallach, son of five-time All-Star third baseman Tim Wallach.