Author Archive

7/12 Cubs’ Theo: There’s a lot of chatter

With the Trade Deadline on July 31, Theo Epstein is getting plenty of phone calls from teams interested in Cubs players. Matt Garza is high on some team’s lists, as well as relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

Garza is considered the best starting pitcher on the market.

“Obviously, he’s throwing extremely well and he’s very healthy and there are teams out there looking for pitching who are going to call and try to acquire him,” Epstein said Friday. “For us, he’s helping us win games now, there’s a chance to possibly retain him beyond this year, so we’ll just balance all that out and do what’s best for the organization.”

It is a busy time of the season.

“There’s a lot of chatter going on right now,” said Epstein, president of baseball operations. “I wouldn’t say anything major is imminent. There’s a lot of talk, and we’ll continue to stay abreast with what other teams are trying to do as their situation changes.”

This is the second year the Cubs have been sellers. That’s not a position Epstein wants to be in.

“We wanted to be buyers this year,” he said. “With a few breaks, this year, we could’ve been in a much different situation. If some one-run games early change, and different bullpen situations [it could've been different]. The goal every year is to be in a position where you’re looking to add and have a strong pennant push.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/11 Scouts eye Garza & others

Matt Garza’s name may be the one most often mentioned in trade rumors, but scouts are very much interested in Cubs relievers Kevin Gregg and James Russell and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. Garza is the top starting pitcher on the market but the Cubs are demanding top prospects in return. Gregg is 15-for-17 in save situations since taking over the closer’s duties. He was released by the Dodgers at the end of Spring Training because they didn’t have a roster spot. Russell is the only left in the Cubs’ ‘pen now. Schierholtz has value against right-handed pitchers and has been the most consistent with runners in scoring position.

– Carrie Muskat

7/10 Cubs prepared for moves

A year ago at the Trade Deadline, the Cubs dealt two of their starters, lost another to injury, and then shut down another in early September. They had to scramble to fill in the gaps. This year, the Cubs have already traded one starter — Scott Feldman — and Matt Garza could also change uniforms by the July 31 deadline. But this year, the Cubs feel they’re better prepared to handle the moves.

“There’s no question the pitching staff we ran out there in September [2012] was short,” GM Jed Hoyer said Wednesday. “I think we feel a lot better about that. We have more depth in the Minor Leagues, more depth on the Major League roster. It was hard to watch [last year]. … Shutting down [Jeff] Samardzija was incredibly hard because we didn’t have anyone to fill in for him.”

The Cubs expect Scott Baker, who has been rehabbing from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, to be ready in about a month. Jake Arrieta, acquired from the Orioles in the Feldman deal, also could start. Plus, they already have Carlos Villanueva, who has gone from the rotation to the ‘pen and back to the rotation.

Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley, who both made their Major League debuts last season, also have another year of experience.

“There’s obviously no question we’re much more equipped than last year,” manager Dale Sveum said.

Garza is the prime pitcher on the trade market, and Hoyer acknowledged that he has received a lot of interest.

“There’s obviously a lot of incoming phone calls,” Hoyer said. “There’s a lot about Matt, obviously, but a lot about other players on the team, too. I think in general in the game, phone traffic has picked up. I feel there’s a lot of interest in our players. The team is playing well, and a lot of our individual players are playing well. I think that’s a big part of it.”

Scouts also are keeping an eye on closer Kevin Gregg and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.

– Carrie Muskat

7/9 Matt Garza update

The Indians are among the teams seeking a starting pitcher, and are keeping an eye on Matt Garza, according to CBSSports.com and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. They had a rep among the dozen scouts at U.S. Cellular Field Monday night to watch Garza, who was impressive. The right-hander picked up the win over the White Sox, and has given up four earned runs over his last 37 innings in his last five starts to lower his ERA to 3.22. Before this stretch, he had a 6.26 ERA in five games. The Rangers, Dodgers and Red Sox also are following Garza’s outings.

Garza, who will be a free agent after this season, did acknowledge after Monday’s game that he has talked to the Cubs about a possible extension.

“[An extension] is always on the table,” Garza said. “I voiced my opinion about how I love it here. My family loves it here. It’s always something you think about. I don’t know which route they’re going to go.”

How real is an extension?

“As real as a trade,” Garza said. “Trades are just rumors like everything else. An extension talk, I’m part of, I know for a fact where it’s at. It’s always a possibility, man, 50-50.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to my decision if I want an extension, and a trade, it’s obviously [the Cubs']decision,” he said. “I like being a Cub, I want to get this team to October and win it here. Like I’ve said before, it’d be one [heck] of a party. I’m just going to get ready for every five days.”

So, what uniform is he wearing on Aug. 1?

“I’m hoping the Cubs, but I don’t even look that far,” Garza said. “What’s today, the 8th? Probably the 13th will be the next day I look at.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/8 Matt Garza rumors

Matt Garza has been rumored to be traded since Spring Training. Could the Cubs keep the right-hander and sign him to a long-term deal? CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported Monday the Cubs have talked to Garza’s agents about a possible long-term contract. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirmed that the Cubs and Garza have had recent talks. Rosenthal reported that signing Garza has always been one of the Cubs’ options. The team also could make him a one-year qualifying offer at the end of the season.

Garza is considered the top pitcher available on the trade market, and there is still time before the July 31 deadline for teams to make a deal with the Cubs. One scout told MLB.com that because Garza will be a free agent at year’s end, and a possible short-term rental, teams don’t want to give up top top prospects in exchange. The Cubs, obviously, are looking for top prospects.

The Rangers, Red Sox, Indians, Rockies, Giants, Padres, Nationals and Cardinals all need starting pitching, and the number of scouts has increased each time Garza pitches. Garza, who is making $10.25 million this year, will be a free agent after this season, and could demand a deal similar to what Anibal Sanchez got — five years, $80 million.

Garza will be on the mound Monday night when the Cubs face the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in a makeup game.

– Carrie Muskat

7/7 Matt Garza rumors

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers were interested in Matt Garza last season, and nearly acquired him at the Trade Deadline. However, Garza had a stress reaction in his right elbow, and he didn’t pitch after July 21. The Rangers instead dealt for Ryan Dempster. The Rangers are reportedly pursuing Garza again this year. The right-hander is healthy, and will make his 10th start on Monday against the White Sox. He’s given up two earned runs over 30 innings in his last four starts.

– Carrie Muskat

7/2 Cubs deal Feldman, Clevenger to O’s

The Cubs kicked off the trading season on Tuesday, dealing pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-handed pitchers Jake Arrietta and Pedro Strop plus two international signing bonus slots. The Cubs also have acquired the Astros’ No. 2 and 3 international signing bonus slots for Minor League infielder Ronald Torreyes.

Feldman (7-6, 3.46 ERA), who has been one of the Cubs most consistent starters, was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Athletics, but instead, lefty Chris Rusin will get the assignment.

Feldman most likely won’t be the only starter to be dealt before the July 31 Trade Deadline. There also has been interest in right-hander Matt Garza, scheduled to start Wednesday.

Clevenger made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster but has struggled with a strained left oblique, and was with Triple-A Iowa. A Baltimore native, the catcher was thrilled at the news, according to his agent, Joshua Kusnick, who tweeted: “Clevenger is an oriole done deal home coming!”

The Cubs will get $388,100 from the Orioles in international slot money, which may help them sign top prospect Eloy Jimenez.

– Carrie Muskat

7/2 Marmol to Dodgers

The Cubs have found Carlos Marmol a new home. The Cubs traded the embattled closer to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier in a deal that also includes a swap of draft picks and financial considerations.

Marmol, who was designated for assignment June 25, will not become the Dodgers’ closer but provide a veteran arm in their revamped bullpen.

The Dodgers will pay roughly $500,000 of the remaining $5 million on Marmol’s contract. Guerrier has about $1.8 million remaining on the final year of a three-year, $12 million contract. Guerrier was designated for assignment on Sunday.

After the Cubs designated Marmol last week, a few teams had expressed an interest in the right-hander, who was 2-4 with a 5.86 ERA in 31 games. He did strike out 32, but also walked 21 and served up 26 hits over 27 2/3 innings.

Marmol, 30, began the season as the Cubs closer but lost the job after the first week to Kyuji Fujikawa. However, the Japanese pitcher had elbow problems and eventually required Tommy John surgery. Kevin Gregg has taken over as closer, replacing Marmol, who had replaced Gregg in that role in 2009. It’s also ironic that Gregg was with the Dodgers in Spring Training, but they released him.

– Carrie Muskat

7/1 Marmol to Dodgers?

The Cubs would not comment on a report Monday that the Dodgers are close to acquiring Carlos Marmol in a trade. ESPNChicago.com reported that the Dodgers could be close to acquiring the right-hander, who was designated for assignment last Tuesday after compiling a 2-4 record and 5.86 ERA in 31 games. Marmol is owed more than $5 million on his remaining $9.8 million salary.

Marmol began the season as the Cubs closer but lost the job in the first week to Kyuji Fujikawa. However, the Japanese pitcher had elbow problems that ultimately resulted in Tommy John surgery. Kevin Gregg, whom the Dodgers released after a solid Spring Training, was signed by the Cubs and is 13-for-14 in save situations with the Cubs.

Teams have contacted the Cubs about Marmol since he was designated for assignment. The right-hander has walked 21 and given up 26 hits over 27 2/3 innings this season.

– Carrie Muskat

6/30 Theo: 50-50 chance deal before break

Asked if he expected the Cubs to make a deal before the All-Star break, Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations said Sunday the chances are “50-50.” Matt Garza and Scott Feldman are drawing interest for teams looking for another starter, while teams also have inquired about closer Kevin Gregg, who blew his first save opportunity in 13 opportunities on Saturday.

The interest — and rumors — will continue up until the July 31 Trade Deadline.

There also have been reports that teams are inquiring about Nate Schierholtz but Epstein may be hard pressed to part with the outfielder, who has moved into the No. 3 spot in the lineup.

“He’s exceeded our expectations with the overall quality at-bats,” Epstein said of Schierholtz. “To hit him in the three-hole, he does a nice job. He can handle different kinds of pitching, give you a tough at-bat. He’s a threat to go deep if they make a mistake, runs the bases well, he’s been really reliable defensively. He’s done a nice job.”

Last year, the Cubs were active at the Trade Deadline, dealing pitchers Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, plus catcher Geovany Soto, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker.

– Carrie Muskat

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 646 other followers