Theo Epstein met with the beat reporters prior to Sunday’s finale in Seattle. When asked about the possibility that the Cubs would make a deal before the All-Star break, Epstein put the chances at 50-50 that the front office would make a deal or two over the next two weeks.
Theo Epstein explained that with the amount of calls that are happening along with the number of players potentially available, the opportunities might present themselves for the Cubs to get better.
According to the Tribune, teams are scouting the Cubs heavily right now and expect to do so leading up to the July 31 deadline. The Red Sox have sent former Cubs’ scout, Gary Hughes, out to follow the Cubs during the current six-game, seven-day trip on the West Coast.
Theo Epstein was on the Cubs’ pre-game show Sunday. When asked about his thoughts on the first half of the season, Epstein said there have been a lot of ups and downs. The club is not where they want it to be and he is not happy with the results he has seen on the field. Epstein said, “We have our work cut out for us.” Epstein went onto say the best way to sum up the first half is that the team has been pretty good for the first seven innings and pretty bad after that.
From a player development standpoint in the system, Epstein has seen a lot of players make improvement and seemingly get better every day. Epstein mentioned Arismendy Alcantara as one of the players that has really improved. Epstein called Alcantara a heady, toolsy player that has really started playing the game well. Alcantara is showing patience at the plate and really playing the game like the Cubs want. Epstein explained that a lot of their players and top prospects have been making big strides.
Theo Epstein talked about the upcoming trade deadline and said a team never wants to be in a position to look forward to the trade deadline. With that said, the Cubs have to use the deadline to their advantage because there are only a couple times throughout the season that a club has opportunities to add talent to the organization. Epstein explained the Cubs have short term assets they have to turn into long term assets. Epstein admitted that it was not fun trading Ryan Dempster last year but now the organization has Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks in the system and both players are producing in Double-A.
There are many teams throughout the league involved in trade discussions right now according to Epstein. There are “lots of teams” looking for pitching, both starters and relievers. The Cubs would prefer to acquire players that are near big league ready in trades. Epstein explained that those type of players are hard to acquire at the deadline unless the team is trading “big time” players. It is possible for a team to land bigger prospects that are further away from the majors that project well. Those players come with a bigger risk involved because sometimes those players do not end up matching their projections.
Matt Garza remains with the Cubs despite the report on Thursday that he could be traded this weekend. Garza is scheduled to make his next start on Wednesday in Oakland.
Several teams are reportedly very interested in trading for Garza including the Rockies, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Orioles, Red Sox, Nationals, Rangers and Blue Jays.
The Orioles have made adding a starter a priority according to the Baltimore Sun and have Garza high on their list, along with Scott Feldman. According to Jon Heyman, the Orioles believe the price for Garza is too high right now.
Matt Garza is still expected to be traded “very soon” according to multiple reports.
Several teams are looking for bullpen help which could create a bidding war for Kevin Gregg. The Rockies and Braves have been connected to Gregg and Jim Bowden thinks the Dodgers could be interested in acquiring the pitcher that they released a couple of months back
While reports have suggested that Nate Schierholtz could be available, that might not be the case. Schierholtz has one more year of team control before he becomes a free agent and not only has he been one of the bright spots for the Cubs this year but he also fills a need for next season.
Theo Epstein said on Sunday that Schierholtz has exceeded their expectations and pointed to the quality at bats as one of the reasons.
According to the Tribune, the Cubs figure to keep Nate Schierholtz.
Theo Epstein took the heat for Dale Sveum on Sunday and strongly backed his manager according to a report from the Sun-Times. Epstein said that managers sometimes take the blame for things that are out of their control. Epstein pointed to the “imperfect roster” that Sveum was given as the big problem.
Epstein thinks Sveum has done a nice job and is “steady at the helm of the ship.”
News, Notes and Rumors
According to Buster Olney, the Cubs and Diamondbacks briefly discussed Jeff Samardzija. When the Cubs asked for a package that would include Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, the talks ended.
There is no urgency for the Cubs to trade James Russell according to the Tribune.
Theo Epstein did not voice any concerns about signing Kris Bryant when asked how the negotiations were going with Scott Boras on Sunday.