With 15 days until the non-waiver trade deadline on Aug. 1, the front office is exploring ways to improve the Cubs roster. And Baseball Operations is just not focused on one area.
The Cubs are believed to be looking for a left-handed bat for the outfield, a left- and right-handed reliever for the back of the bullpen and starting pitching.
Theo Epstein met with the beat writers and admitted the Cubs “had some things cooking during the break but nothing came through.”
“All of baseball operations is hard at work on it. We were all through the All-Star break,” Epstein said. “Quite a few things were going on, but we didn’t get anything done. We’ll continue to work on it over the next couple of weeks.”
Most think the Cubs are just focused on adding a left-handed reliever to the mix, but that’s not the case.
“I don’t think it’s productive to pigeon-hole yourself thinking like we need this one specific role and that’s going to be the key to improving this club because there are so many variables,” Epstein said. “Things change.”
“The way you look now may not be the way you look in September. It’s having an open mind, and understanding things are going to change. We’re going to have injuries the rest of the way. We’re going to have guys really step up and improve. We’re going to have guys who stumble and be open-minded to adding talented players in different roles knowing that can help us down the line. The more talent you have as long as you don’t distract from the chemistry of the group is always important.”
As for the players that could be traded to acquire talent from outside the organization. Epstein would not use the word “untouchable” but he reiterated Friday there are “a few players he can’t envision trading.”
“I’ve always said I don’t believe in true untouchables. But there are guys who we believe in so much and are so much a part of our core and our identity that it would be impracticable to envision a deal. It’s almost impossible to envision a deal that would make sense with them. But if you start with untouchables, you limit yourself. You’re always willing to have a conversation.”
Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras are not believed to be available. Epstein has said Schwarber will not be traded and he is looking forward to watching him hit home runs for the Cubs next season. Reports have indicated the Cubs have told teams Albert Almora Jr. is also unavailable.
If the Cubs make any deals before the non-waiver trade deadline, the front office might be willing to trade for a rental depending on the acquisition cost. But it’s believed the Cubs would prefer to only make trades that would help the team this season and beyond.
“This time of year, it’s important to stay focused primarily on this year’s club,” Epstein said. “You can’t think too far in advance in baseball especially when you have a contending club that has a chance to do something special. But always have one eye on the opportunities that may not really help you until down the line as well.”
The Cubs have been connected to the Yankees (Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman, Dellin Betances), Athletics (Rich Hill, Josh Reddick, Sean Doolittle) and Rays (Jake Odorizzi, Matt Moore, Drew Smyly) in recent weeks. Bruce Levine reported the Rays had one of its top scouts at Wrigley on Friday.
The front office may or may not address the Cubs needs before the deadline. One thing is certain it will be an interesting two weeks on and off the field.
Follow Chicago Cubs Online on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors