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7/31 Cubs rumors: DeJesus, Schierholtz

According to FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are expected to move either David DeJesus or Nate Schierholtz today. The Pirates are interested in both. The Pirates, who have a 1 1/2 game lead in the NL Central over the Cardinals, could use a left-handed bat. They’re hitting .241 against right-handed pitching compared to .251 vs. lefties. Schierholtz was batting .283 against right-handers with a career-high 14 home runs. DeJesus, who just returned from the DL, was batting .282 against right-handers. Money-wise, DeJesus has a $6.5 million club option for 2014, while Schierholtz was only signed for this year and would be a less expensive option.

– Carrie Muskat

7/30 Samardzija rumors “far-fetched”

The Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. CT, and manager Dale Sveum doesn’t expect Jeff Samardzija to be doing anything but prepping for his next start with the Cubs. Rumors continue to swirl about the Cubs listening to offers for Samardzija.

“If somebody asks, sure,” Sveum said on whether the Cubs were keeping an open mind. “That’s not my job, so I don’t know what goes in those kind of meetings. It’s not realistic [to deal Samardzija].”

The Cubs would have to be offered a lot to part with the 28-year-old right-hander who is under team control for two more years.

“This is me speaking, but I would think it’s very, very far-fetched to think that you have a guy under control for that long and possibly a No. 1 guy to do anything with him,” Sveum said. “Those are things that pop up and somebody will say, sure you’ll listen. But are you going to want to trade half your team [to get Samardzija]?”

Meanwhile, Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz wait to see if they will stay with the Cubs past the deadline.

“It is a compliment to be rumored,” Sveum said. “Some people get to be part of a pennant race and get to the playoffs and do some fun things.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/27 Could Samardzija be next?

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija. But Rosenthal says the asking price is high. The 28-year-old right-hander has two arbitration years remaining. He’s compiled a 3.94 ERA in 21 starts this season with a 9.1 strikeout/per nine innings ratio. Theo Epstein has said no player is untouchable, but it would take quite a package to pry Samardzija loose. With the trade of Alfonso Soriano, Samardzija has the longest tenure with the Cubs among players on the 25-man roster.

The Cubs already have traded Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Carlos Marmol and Soriano.

7/25 Soriano headed to Yankees

Alfonso Soriano is apparently headed back to the Yankees, where he began his Major League career. Soriano was in the Cubs’ starting lineup on Thursday for the series finale against the Diamondbacks, but president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called manager Dale Sveum and asked him to pull the 37-year-old outfielder, saying a deal was “99 percent” completed.

Major League Baseball has to review the financial terms of the deal, and an official announcement may not come until Friday.

The Yankees were 6 1/2 games back in the American League East. Can Soriano help the Yankees?

“He’s going to a place that is obviously one of the better stadiums, and he’s been there before and has performed in that atmosphere before,” Sveum said. “Obviously, they’ve had a lot of injuries, and he’s the guy who can fill that void as [designated hitter] and in left field.”

Soriano has hit 10 home runs in his last 21 games, and was batting .286 in that stretch with six doubles, 21 RBIs and a 1.044 OPS, dating to June 28. He has homered in five of his last 14 games, and ranks seventh among active players in career home runs with 389.

– Carrie Muskat

7/25 Schierholtz, DeJesus wait

Cubs outfielders Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus are both well aware the Trade Deadline is one week away. Any team looking for a left-handed bat and a solid defensive outfielder would be interested in Schierholtz, who was batting .313 with runners in scoring position this season. A few teams have followed Schierholtz, including the Pirates.

“It’s out of our control what happens,” Schierholtz said after Wednesday’s extra inning win over the Diamondbacks in which he had his first five RBIs game. “I love being a Cub, and hope to stay here. You never know what will happen in the next week. All we can do is go out there and focus on trying to win games.”

DeJesus’ name also has been mentioned in trade rumors, and Theo Epstein did take time to talk to the outfielder, but not about a possible move. Instead, Epstein wanted to thank DeJesus, and tell him how much they appreciate his mentorship of the younger players. DeJesus showed that during his rehab stint with the Rookie League players, many of whom are teenagers.

“He’s a really good baseball player, lived up to his contract, he’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization,” Epstein said. “There’s a lot of value to having him here. That said, will we make him untouchable? No — no one’s untouchable. We’ll sit and weigh out the options and what’s best for the Cubs.”

DeJesus, activated from the DL on Wednesday, was prepared.

“My name’s been in the rumors before,” he said. “It’s nothing new. You’ve just got to be professional and play the game and see what happens from there.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/23 Alfonso Soriano update

Theo Epstein planned to meet with Alfonso Soriano, who was caught off guard by reports that the Cubs and Yankees were close to completing a deal which would send the 37-year-old outfielder back to the team he broke in with.

“I saw the news and got surprised,” Soriano said Tuesday. “My agent told me the Yankees just called but it’s nothing serious and it’s nothing close. When I saw it on TV, I got a little surprised. I didn’t know it was coming — they put a lot of pressure on me, because a lot of friends called me and family when they saw the rumor on TV. my agent and me, we have the control. We talked, and I think if something happens, I want to be the first one to know.”

Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in Arizona on Tuesday and were going to talk to Soriano about his options. The Yankees aren’t the only team that has inquired about Soriano, Epstein said.

“They’re not the first team to call,” Epstein said. “They’re the first team to show up in the paper in their home city right away.”

Soriano has a no-trade clause. Would he consider playing for the Yankees again?

“I just focus, play baseball, play the game today,” he said. “If it happens, if I’m getting closer, I’ll think about it. Now, there’s nothing there. If the president and the GM don’t call my agent, it’s because nothing happened, nothing’s close. If it gets close, I want time to think about it. Now, there’s nothing to think about.”

It would be a homecoming for Soriano, who broke into the U.S. Major Leagues with the Yankees in 1999.

“That’s my first organization, and I enjoyed my time with the Yankees,” he said. “They have a very good team. They are the Yankees. They always make the playoffs, no matter what team they have, no matter what pitching they’ve got. They always find a way. It’s one of the best organizations in baseball.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/19 Matt Garza en route to Denver

Matt Garza tweeted Friday morning that he was headed to Denver to join the Cubs, who open a three-game series there. How long will he stay? According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs and Rangers are close to a deal. Among the names discussed are Triple-A third baseman Mike Olt and Class A right-hander C.J. Edwards. Edwards, 21, is 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA at Class A Hickory with 122 strikeouts and 34 walks. Rosenthal reports the Cubs will receive a strong package of prospects for Garza, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

– Carrie Muskat

7/18 Matt Garza rumors

Will Matt Garza start Monday for the Cubs against the Diamondbacks? According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, trade talks have intensified regarding Garza, considered the top starting pitcher available on the market. Rosenthal and Morosi report the Rangers are the “most motivated” of any team in discussions with the Cubs regarding Garza. Texas currently has five starting pitchers on the disabled list (Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis). According to Rosenthal/Morosi, the Rangers tried to acquire Garza in 2011 from Tampa Bay but the Cubs put together the better package at that time.

The Indians, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers, Red Sox and Diamondbacks also have expressed interest in Garza, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Cubs traveled Thursday to Denver, where they will open a three-game series on Friday against the Rockies.

– Carrie Muskat

7/14 Matt Garza rumors – UPDATED

CBSSports.com’s and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Sunday that Matt Garza was told he will likely be traded after the Cubs were unable to reach agreement on an extension. Heyman said there was a “difference of opinion” over the average annual value of the contract. Heyman said the Rangers, Indians, Red Sox and Cardinals are interested in Garza.

When Chicago media asked Garza about the report after Sunday’s game, he said: “I haven’t heard anything like that.”

Garza pitched Saturday night, and the Rangers had two scouts at Wrigley to watch, while the Tigers, Orioles, Pirates and Blue Jays also had representatives present. Others were probably watching on TV. In his last five starts, Garza is 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA and 33 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings. All five have been quality starts and Saturday was the first time he didn’t go at least seven innings.

– Carrie Muskat

7/13 Matt Garza update

Matt Garza started on Saturday night for the Cubs in the third game of their four-game series against the Cardinals. Would this be his last start in a Cubs uniform? The Rangers had two scouts at Wrigley Field to watch Garza, while the Tigers, Orioles, Pirates and Blue Jays also had representatives on hand.

How has Garza dealt with the trade rumors?

“He’s handled it great,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said before Saturday’s game. “Obviously, he went through this last year at the same time when his name was all aaround. It goes unsaid how he’s handled it. He’s pitched in as good a five-game stretch as he has in his whole career. He’s obviously handled it extremely well.”

Garza has tossed at least seven innings and given up one or no earned runs in five straight starts dating to June 16.

– Carrie Muskat

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