Cubs have shed all players with no-trade rights
By Gordon Wittenmyer email@example.com July 25, 2013 10:42PM
Updated: August 27, 2013 6:45AM
PHOENIX — With Thursday’s pending trade of Alfonso Soriano to the New York Yankees, the Cubs’ second-year front office has shed the roster of the last inherited player with no-trade rights.
Gone since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over are Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Carlos Marmol — all players with at least partial no-trade rights.
Soriano (San Francisco last year), Dempster (Atlanta last year) and Marmol (the Angels, briefly, last winter) used their no-trade rights to nix trade talks at least once before the front office was able to eventually trade them.
Epstein has a policy of not giving players no-trade clauses in their contracts, leaving longevity as the only means for one of his players to win those rights (through rights earned as a 10-year veteran who has five years with his current team).
“I hope we have some players who are here for a really long time,” he said, “and then they’ll have 10-5 rights. I don’t begrudge those rights. They’re earned.”
If he decides to begrudge anyone, next up would be Starlin Castro — whose 10-5 rights kick in if the Cubs pick up the 2020 club option on that seven-year extension that went into effect this year.
If core player Jeff Samardzija is around long enough, he would earn those rights in 2019.
Outfielder Nate Schierholtz’s career-high five-RBI night Wednesday raised his trading-chip profile into the final days before next Wednesday’s non-waiver deadline.
But closer Kevin Gregg, once considered among the top one or two relievers on the market, may have lost significant luster since suffering two blown saves and a loss in his last seven outings — after converting 15 of 16 chances.
“I’m not sold on Gregg,” said one major-league executive whose team has interest in acquiring relief pitching before the deadline.
Including Soriano, the Cubs have traded five members of this year’s major-league roster already this month, with several possible trades to come in the next few days.
“There’s been some calls on some other potential opportunities,” Epstein said. “Nothing really concrete yet. If we do anything, it’ll probably be closer to the deadline.”
With Soriano headed to the Yanks, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said he would mix and match his outfield combinations, with rookie Junior Lake getting the regular starts in left against right-handers (when David DeJesus is in center) and playing center otherwise.
◆ Lake entered Thursday’s game with 14 hits in his first six games, most for a Cub that quickly in his career since at least 1916, according to research by Chicago stat guru Ed Hartig.
He had a bunt single and went 1-for-4 Thursday in the Cubs’ 3-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.
◆ Scott Baker continued to look a little hesitant in snapping off full-velocity fastballs and sharp breaking balls in Wednesday’s minor-league rehab start, Sveum said.
“That comes with the territory [of Tommy John surgery rehab],” Sveum said.
“I’m kind of looking forward to when he gets up to that 85 [pitch limit next time] and knowing he’s going to go further [in the game] to see what happens.”