Cubs Downplay Volume of Trade Talk

As to be expected, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer downplayed the rumors and trade talks surrounding the Cubs Friday. With July just around the corner, the noise will get louder before deals are made.

Theo Epstein explained before Friday’s game that it is the usual chatter for this time of year and the talks are “probably not as much as you’d think.”

Scouts were at Wrigley Field to watch Jason Hammel’s latest start Friday and those same scouts figure to return to the old ballyard to see Jeff Samardzija take on the Nationals in the second game of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader.

Comcast SportsNet reported a Blue Jays scout was at Wrigley Friday to watch Jason Hammel and he is sticking around for Samardzija’s start on Saturday. The same scout is going to follow the Cubs to Boston to watch the series with the Red Sox that begins Monday. With Hammel and Samardzija pitching this weekend, neither pitcher figures to pitch in the three-game series in Boston, unless the Cubs alter their rotation.

Alex Anthopoulos’ shopping list is believed to include an infielder and a lefty reliever, along with a starting pitcher. As previously reported, the Cubs could help the Blue Jays fill their needs and use players such as Luis Valbuena or Darwin Barney and Wesley Wright or James Russell as ways to increase their return in a deal for either Jason Hammel or Jeff Samardzija.

Jon Heyman reported Friday that while the Blue Jays are looking for a second baseman, the Mets’ Daniel Murphy is not believed to be on their list. The Jays would like to have a second baseman that can provide more defense than Murphy.

Bruce Levine reported Friday afternoon that multiple teams are having multiple scouts watch the Cubs. Scouts from the Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays and Giants “have watched the recent outings of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.” According to Levine, “the Cubs are working the communication lines hard, hoping to make deals” like the ones last summer.

Levine confirmed what had been previously reported that the Cubs are “looking for high-ceiling catchers” along with top pitching prospects in deals for Samardzija and Hammel. The Cubs said during the off-season that the lack of catching in the organization would be addressed. Several backstops were taken in the draft, but the Cubs are not done adding depth in the catching department. The Yankees are thought to be very interested in Jason Hammel and J.R. Murphy is believed to be available in the right deal.

Other Cubs Rumors

According to Buster Olney, the impeding cost for Jeff Samardzija could keep the Giants from trading for him, or David Price. Olney reported the Giants will “have to address holes at third base, left field, second base, and perhaps the bullpen” at the end of the season. And the cost to acquire Samardzija and try to sign him long term could be too much for the Giants.

ESPN Chicago reported, despite the way the Cubs have played in June, it’s a matter of too little too late.

Buster Olney agrees with Mark Gonzales that James Russell “is an interesting pitcher to watch in the trade market.”

According to Jon Heyman, Jeff Samardzija is a great trade chip, but Heyman questioned if Samardzija could bring twice as much as Matt Garza?

Darwin Barney could be used as part of a deal of a contender that has enough offense to cover up for his deficiencies at the plate. Barney has value to a team looking to sure up their defense, either in a starting role or off the bench late in games. Barney is arbitration eligible next season and would not come with any strings attached. If he succeeds with another team, he could provide value at a rather reasonable cost. If he was not able to perform to expectations, Barney could be non-tendered in the off-season. Barney would like to stay with the Cubs, according to a report from ESPN Chicago. He has maintained he would like to be around with things start turning around for the Cubs, and he feels that process has begun.

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  • Theboardrider

    Vamanos Barney!

  • Tony_H

    Many just wanted to cut James Russell. But when you look at his numbers, they keep going down.

    2010 4.96

    2011 4.12
    2012 3.25
    2013 3.59
    2014 2.05

    2010 1.347

    2011 1.330
    2012 1.298
    2013 1.215
    2014 1.045

    I’ve watched him pitch and get why some people don’t like him, but he is being used better as a whole this year and is pitching better. His K/9 is the best of his career at 7.8.

    He has interest from other teams, just like Valbuena and Barney also do.

    • Sonate

      His splits are not gross either. He has faced RHB 43 times and LHB 47 times. LHB have an OPS of .664 against him, but RHB have an OPS of .433. So this year he is actually doing better against RHB than against LHB. I would not believe this had I not looked it up.

      • Tony_H

        I didn’t believe it either and had to look myself and he is dominating those RH’s this year!

        That is really impressive considering it has been said, he can’t get RH’s out.

    • GaryLeeT

      Like you said, if used the right way by starting the inning, then he’s done well. It’s his 40% score rate of inherited runners, and fly ball to ground ball ratio that are not so hot. He’s induced zero DPs this year.

  • Chris K.

    As I stated in my article, I really think Russell and Barney are throw-ins to up the value in deals for Samardzija and Hammel. They just don’t have enough value on their own.

  • Richard Hood

    I love how the Cubs are playing in June (and most of May) but lets be realistic. When the trade season happens this team is probably going to sink into oblivion again.

    When the Cubs are going to trade 2 of their starting 5 and probably 3 bullpen arms there will be growing pains in those areas.

    Say what you will about how good our BP is but it almost directly connected to Villaneava going back to the pen. He stabilized everything. Everyone was slotted around him and went to work. The kids had a good guy that has been through the league a few times on some very good teams so he showed them how to prepare to be consistent every time out. He is not a super star or a money player. Just a very good baseball guy. When he is gone the kids are really going to miss him. I am hoping that Rusin can step in and take his spot as the long man/spot starter but we know he won’t be able to handle the leadership role that Villaneava has this year.

    When you replace 5 out of 12 (or 13) pitchers on a staff with a retread (Wada) a could be (Hendricks), a lefty specialist (Rosscup), a AAAA relivers (Parker) and a Cuban sensation (Rivero) there is going to be some regression by design.

    This is just looking at the arms that are going to be moved not even talking about how the Cubs defense and hitting is going to take a hit depending on who gets traded. It is going to be a tough August and September again guys I just wish that soon it would all be over and we can start seeing the kids earning some full time PT. Hopefully April of 2015 will be better.

    • Tony_H

      It wouldn’t surprise me if we traded no one from the bullpen and Russell is the most likely. Haven’t hear much on Villanueva being traded and not sure who the 3rd bullpen arm that would be traded. I think Rosscup can easily replace, if not be better than Russell. Rivero is the real deal and along with Vizcaino will improve the bullpen when they arrive.

      Rotation wise, I think Hendricks gets the first shot and wouldn’t be surprised if Grimm or Ramirez were stretched out to get a shot at the rotation for next year.

      • Richard Hood

        Villaneuva has been talking for about a month about how sad it is going to be to be traded. I think that says they have talked to him about moving him.
        Wright will be moved because lefties always have value. Russell will be moved because he has value and a couple years of control. Hammel and Shark are a given.

        Barney, Boni or Valbuena (probably not all of them) will be moved either as add in pieces to increase return, with IFA slot money for the same reason, or as waiver wire types to a team that needs a player that can play all over the IF.

        Shierholtz has been scouted by Boston for weeks according to the Boston papers.

        Is Baker going to be packaged with Hammel since he has been acting as his personal catcher?

        Rag’s is beginning to hit at just the right time but I do not know if he will ever have enough value to move unless it is as a secondary piece as well.

        As you see there is going to be a lot of turn over of the roster mid season. I am talking about as many as 10 guys off the 26 man roster.

        A team can not add and subtract players like that and remain competitive every day. It is just too much to overcome on a daily basis.

        I am not disagreeing that the team will be as talented or maybe even more talent after these moves (depending on the return from Shark and Hammel) just that it takes a while for a group of players to actually become a team and for it to happen mid season is almost impossible.

        • Tony_H

          It will be very difficult to trade that many players you mention. If they move 4 or 5 that would be doing good.

          • Richard Hood

            Count out with me the number of trades from July 2nd on last year shall we?

            Hairston, Marmol, DeJesus, Garza,Feldman, Clevlanger (40man spot even if in AAA), and Soriano.

            That is not even counting the huge number of releases through out the season or the Lillebridge trade. So me saying up to 10 in 8 weeks is not nearly as huge of a number as you would think.

            At one point or another last year the Cubs moved 15 players by either trade or waivers. Ten this year in trades would not be that far fetched.

          • Tony_H

            Not counting waivers as those aren’t trades and if they are waived it has to do with a better option to replace them.

            DeJesus wasn’t traded he was a waiver claim and the Cubs let them have him.

            Players we traded for a return was 6 and I don’t think we can do more than that this year.

            Actually I bet no team has ever traded 10 players during the summer trade season.

      • Tom U

        Tsuyoshi Wada will be the first pitcher called up after a trade. The Cubs will want his experience in the rotation.

        • Tony_H

          We will see. It might end up being Beeler if he pitches well today.

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