Thursday is the non-waiver trade deadline and it could be a rather busy end of the month around baseball. As for the Cubs, the front office is believed to be listening and talking to other teams about players on the big league roster.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer said last week the club is not in a rush to make moves just to make them and will only do what they feel is best for the team moving forward. Players that are under control beyond this season the front office might decide to keep in order for them to be in the clubhouse next season when the prospects start coming up to the big leagues.
The Cubs have one or more years of control left on James Russell, Wesley Wright, Justin Ruggiano, Luis Valbuena and Chris Coghlan.
Players with contracts that expire at the end of the season are expected to be traded, with a deal or two likely to happen in August.
Emilio Bonifacio is garnering attention now that he is healthy and both Carlos Villanueva and Nate Schierholtz have been mentioned as possibilities for teams looking to add a swingman to their pen or a solid defender in the outfield to their bench.
The Cubs would like to trade Edwin Jackson according to multiple reports, but the front office has not found a trading partner for him.
After the deal was made with Oakland on Independence Day, most thought James Russell would be the next player the Cubs would trade. Russell is still with the Cubs, had a rough outing Saturday afternoon, but several teams are believed to be interested.
The Blue Jays, Braves, Orioles, Nationals and Tigers are among the teams looking for relief help. Jim Bowden listed Russell as one of Detroit’s left-handed reliever targets. And Russell is believed to be rather high on Mike Rizzo’s list in Washington.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals are looking for a second baseman and a left handed reliever. Rosenthal did not mention names or teams that Mike Rizzo could be talking to at this point. The Nationals and Cubs were thought to be close on a trade during the Winter Meetings for James Russell, but Rizzo called Billy Beane and acquired Jerry Blevins from the A’s instead.
Jim Bowden would like to see the Nationals acquire Russell and he thinks RHP Austin Voth would be enough for the Cubs to part with Russell.
Emilio Bonifacio is garnering a lot of attention with the Royals and Blue Jays showing interest in a reunion with Bonifacio. Could a team in the NL Central make more sense as a landing spot for Bonifacio?
After Brandon Phillips landed on the DL, Bruce Levine reported the Reds were one of the teams that the front office could talk to about Bonifacio. Jim Bowden thinks Bonifacio to Cincinnati would make sense and he would like for the two rivals to pull off a trade.
Left-handed pitching prospect Amir Garrett could be enough of a return for Bonifacio according to Bowden. The 22-year old is pitching for Low-A Dayton this season.
Baseball America ranked the southpaw as the 18th best prospect in the Reds system prior to the season. Garrett is 4-5 this season in 20 starts with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP. Garrett has given up 91 hits with 40 walks and 82 strikeouts in 97 innings. Garrett has a lot of raw talent that needs to be developed. Garrett continued playing basketball after the Reds selected him out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2011 draft. Cincinnati gave him $1 million and he can run his fastball into the 95 mph range. Garrett has not decided if he is a baseball player or a basketball player yet and will continue to play both sports.
Rusney Castillo held his workout Saturday morning at the University of Miami. The Cubs are reportedly one of several teams interested in signing the free agent Cuban outfielder that can also play infield.
Multiple reports Saturday afternoon indicated 28 of the 30 teams were represented at Castillo’s workout with approximately 100 officials in attendance. Reports have not surfaced which two teams were not in Miami Saturday to watch Castillo.
According to Baseball America, Castillo posted 6.4 and 6.5 times in the 60 during his showcase and was given a 60 grade by one scout. Rusney Castillo showed teams he could play right field, centerfield and shortstop. And his arm graded as 50 on the 20-80 scouting scale according to Baseball America.
Rusney Castillo’s workout lasted two hours and 45 minutes, not counting water breaks and “wardrobe changes.”
As for his hit tool, Rusney Castillo hit in the cage and against live pitching. According to Baseball America, his second round of batting practice in the cage was impressive and he improved on it in his third round. Against live pitching, Castillo “took 16 cuts, missing two and fouling off eight. If the six he hit fair, only one was a likely out, a couple of shot were off the wall and a couple went over the fence.”
According to a report from Jim Bowden, RHP Pedro Strop is on the Brewers’ list of right-handed relief targets. And Dan Vogelbach is on the Pirates’ list of first base targets.