Reflecting on Trade Season, the Trade Deadline, and Where the Cubs Go

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Reflecting on Trade Season, the Trade Deadline, and Where the Cubs Go

Chicago Cubs

theo epstein and jed hoyerIn July, the Chicago Cubs traded Matt Garza for Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, and a PTBNL (or two). The Cubs traded Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and international slot money. The Cubs traded Alfonso Soriano for Corey Black and some cost savings. The Cubs traded Carlos Marmol (and international slot money and cash) for Matt Guerrier. The Cubs traded Scott Hairston (and a PTBNL) for Ivan Pineyro (and a PTBNL). The Cubs traded Roni Torreyes for international slot money.

None of those trades occurred on July 30 or 31, but you can’t argue that the Cubs didn’t have an incredibly busy and productive trade season. More on that, and on the quiet Trade Deadline …

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer addressed the media shortly after the deadline passed without any action. “The last couple of days we had a lot of irons in the fire but never got that close,” Hoyer said, per ESPN. “We thought we had a high but not unreasonably high price on some of the guys, but a lot of the guys we were being asked about we control going forward. In some ways it makes our winter potentially easier.” The implication there being that some of the guys discussed – Nate Schierholtz, David DeJesus, James Russell, among them – would have had to be replaced over the Winter if they’d been traded. I tend to think that’s something of a throwaway line, rather than a real indication of the Cubs’ plans for the offseason. What I mean is, I don’t think the Cubs front office is deciding, on August 1, 2013, that those players will unequivocally be with the club as starters in April 2014. Opportunities to improve the organization occur in the offseason, as well, I think this front office will always explore them. For now, on paper, Schierholtz is the Cubs’ right fielder going into 2014, DeJesus is the Cubs’ center fielder going into 2014, and James Russell is a key setup man and lefty reliever going into 2014. But “on paper” in August doesn’t always tell you much about reality in April.
  • … that said, I am not disappointed that the Cubs will go into the offseason with the option of retaining each of those players for 2014. None is particularly expensive, especially relative to their ability and role, and each can provide clear value to the Cubs in 2014, regardless of how “competitive” the Cubs seek to be. Schierholtz can remain a productive lefty half of a platoon in right field. DeJesus can cover center, or be a great fourth outfielder. Russell can be Russell, even if the Cubs add in the bullpen.
  • It sounds like talks on Dioner Navarro really centered on the Cardinals, which suggests (1) the Cubs weren’t getting (or weren’t soliciting?) many hits on him before Yadier Molina’s injury yesterday; and (2) other teams weren’t jumping on him as a great back-up catcher. Upgrading your back-up catcher is not, to be sure, an earth-shaking move. But I’m surprised that no contenders looked at their back-up situation and thought, “Man, if Starting Catcher X gets hurt, we’re in serious trouble.” Heck, there are teams out there for whom I would think Navarro would be a starting catcher upgrade. Perhaps that’s the range in which the Cubs were valuing him, though, and perhaps that’s why there wasn’t much traction on putting a deal together. An August trade involving Navarro is conceivable, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Cubs – given the extreme lack of upper level catching depth in their system – really want to re-sign Navarro after the season.
  • That Kevin Gregg is still with the team is a surprise, and is probably indicative of his value (and the hit it took over the last few weeks), as well as the quickly flooded relief market that emerged in the final week of July. He can still be traded in August, as complementary players like Gregg are usually not claimed in the trade waiver process (more on that later).
  • Some of the Cubs players who weren’t dealt yesterday sound happy to be able to stay with the Cubs, including DeJesus, Navarro, and Carlos Villanueva in this piece.
  • Hoyer said that, although his name did come up, the Cubs were never close to trading Jeff Samardzija (per The way Hoyer framed it, though, was that if you’re an obvious seller, teams are going to ask about all of your players. That’s just the way it is.
  • Bruce Miles offers a whole lot more here, including more quotes from Hoyer.
  • One ugly upside of yesterday’s relative inactivity? With no teams tearing their team apart, aside from two that were likely to far outpace the Cubs in losses anyway (Astros, White Sox), there probably aren’t any surprise entrants in the “stay in the bottom ten” contest. Like I said, it’s an ugly upside, but if the Cubs aren’t going to make the playoffs this year, I’d rather just see them finish in the bottom 10 teams in the league – that locks them in to a “protected” first round pick next year, which means they could theoretically pursue top free agents (the ones with qualifying offers) without risking losing a first round draft pick in the process. I’m not saying the Cubs will pursue top free agents this offseason. But it’s good to have options. I’m also not saying I’m rooting for Cubs losses. I’m simply saying that a small silver lining of yesterday’s relative inactivity league-wise is that we probably won’t now see three or four new teams taking huge nosedives in August and September.
  • If you missed it, Kim DeJesus – that would be David DeJesus’s better half – was a treat to follow as the Trade Deadline clock ticked down. You can see her activities retroactively in her Twitter time line. For example, together with other Cubs wives some 42 minutes before the deadline (yes, her Vines are more enjoyable than mine):


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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.