Cubs could use Kevin Gregg, Scott Feldman to acquire young pitchers
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org June 15, 2013 8:42PM
Updated: July 17, 2013 7:19AM
NEW YORK — The process already has begun for the Cubs, and the events of this weekend series against the New York Mets are only a matter of helping shape some of the details.
A week past the Cubs’ organization-building “Super Bowl” of the amateur draft, the front office has moved into the trading-season phase of acquiring young pitching — a phase amplified this summer because of the decision to go with power hitting over power pitching with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
“We’re starting those internal discussions now,” team president Theo Epstein said of planning for trade talks leading toward the July 31 deadline, “about where good fits might be and things like that.”
Epstein left open the possibility of a hot streak changing their status as sellers. And the Cubs have a three-game streak after their 5-2 victory Saturday over the woeful Mets.
But the reality is the sell-off has been inevitable since last month after digging an early hole that has grown to 15 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.
“That’s the nature of the business,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Wherever the Cubs find the best partners in trade for their short-term assets, the trip to New York already has had an impact on next month’s dealings.
A small part of that involved the value closer Kevin Gregg and starter Scott Feldman continued to build.
Gregg earned saves in both games to improve to 9-for-9 with an ERA of 0.83 since he signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs two months ago.
Feldman (6-5) continued to look like this year’s Paul Maholm. He had his eighth quality start in 10 outings after seven impressive innings and lowered his ERA to 3.05.
“It’s really out of my control. Anytime you sign anywhere, it’s a possibility,” Feldman said of the likelihood of being traded after signing that one-year, $6 million deal in the winter.
Feldman could be one of the top commodities on the market for contenders — with power-pitching Matt Garza joining him.
Garza, who was about to be shipped to the Texas Rangers last July before an elbow injury sidelined him for the rest of the season, could become even more valuable if he rights himself over the next few weeks, starting with Sunday’s start against the Mets.
Despite some speculation that the Cubs could look again at extension talks for Garza, it’s clear the Cubs intend to trade him, barring another injury or an unforeseen lack of a market.
Epstein said the Cubs will seek pitching with any deal they make, as they did a year ago.
The biggest impact the Mets series has had on the Cubs’ plans involves the shoulder injury to leadoff hitter David DeJesus, the most valuable position player they had to trade until he crashed into the wall Friday chasing a fly ball.
DeJesus, whose shoulder sprain could keep him from even practicing until near the All-Star break, will need at least a short rehab assignment once he proves the shoulder’s sound, Sveum said.
“You don’t want to see guys like that traded, but we all know it’s part of the game,” Sveum said.
If DeJesus isn’t back in time to prove enough value to trade for a good prospect at the deadline, Sveum might get his coveted leadoff man back for another year.
DeJesus, who makes $4.25 million this year with a $6.5 million option for next year, has no chance of clearing waivers after July 31 to keep alive trade possibilities into August.
The top trade candidates all say they want to stay with the Cubs.
“Absolutely,” Feldman said.
But they also know a trade means joining a pennant race.
“Yeah,” said Feldman, who added with a grin, “as long as it’s not [hitter-friendly] Colorado, I’ll be happy.”