Cubs closer Kevin Gregg suddenly a top trade prize
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 3, 2013 10:30PM
Updated: August 5, 2013 6:50PM
OAKLAND, Calif. — The White Sox’ loss during the July trading season could be the Cubs’ gain after the South Siders were forced to put coveted reliever Jesse Crain on the disabled list Wednesday.
One day after the Cubs started off the month with three quick trades, they suddenly have the top bullpen guy known to be on the market in Kevin Gregg, according to officials from other clubs.
And unless the Philadelphia Phillies put Cliff Lee on the block, the top starting pitcher available, Matt Garza, took the mound for the Cubs on Wednesday in Oakland.
How fast could the next Cubs trade come?
‘‘Have you checked to see if [Garza’s] still warming up?’’ said one of a dozen or so major-league evaluators attending Wednesday’s game.
The Cubs added two relievers to their beleaguered bullpen Wednesday with the arrivals of Matt Guerrier and Pedro Strop, who were acquired in Tuesday’s deals. With the departure of Shawn Camp, who was designated for assignment to help make roster room, only James Russell and Rule 5 kid Hector Rondon remain from the Cubs’ opening bullpen.
So many guys have come and gone — and failed in late innings — in the Cubs’ pen this year that manager Dale Sveum said Wednesday that rookie Blake Parker is now his primary eighth-inning guy to set up for Gregg.
‘‘Parker has put himself in that role,’’ Sveum said. ‘‘It’s pretty much going to be Parker and Gregg in that last two innings.’’
At least until Gregg (13-for-14 in saves, 1.65 ERA) is traded — a move that looks like it could happen as quickly as a team with bullpen needs decides to get aggressive.
‘‘I don’t brace for anything because I don’t have control over it until all these things happen,’’ said Sveum, who’s having enough trouble closing games with the players he still has. ‘‘It’s part of the business and that’s where we are. We’re at that part of the season right now.’’
Gregg didn’t have to be told about the Crain move Wednesday afternoon, though he didn’t know it was because of a shoulder.
‘‘That’s unfortunate. He’s got a great arm,’’ said Gregg, who as recently as last week suggested there was no use thinking about trades until the time things usually heat up, after the All-Star break. That was before the Cubs got busy Tuesday and before Crain.
‘‘We all knew April 1 — every team knows — that trades are going to happen in July,’’ Gregg said, ‘‘whether that’s at the beginning of July or the end of July. But from a players’ aspect, we can’t think that way. We can’t.
‘‘That’s why those guys work the front office, because they think about those things. They’re thinking about the future. Players have got to think about now, each day at a time. . . . If you start thinking, ‘Oh, what’s going to happen here? What’s going to happen there?’, all of a sudden things fall apart.’’
Short of things falling apart, the Cubs’ top starter and top reliever will be gone before the end of the month, along with perhaps two or three other players.
The only thing Gregg knows for sure is that any trade will come with a substantial rise in the standings and a raise in the September stakes.
‘‘If that does come,’’ he said, ‘‘that’ll be exciting.’’