Trade deadline comes with no deals for Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2013 10:24PM
Updated: September 3, 2013 7:17AM
Outfielder David DeJesus saw the clock just as he rounded a corner in the clubhouse Wednesday afternoon, and then caught the eye of teammate Jeff Samardzija, who was talking with manager Dale Sveum.
The clock had just ticked past 3 p.m.
“And [Samardzija’s] like, ‘Hey, I guess we’re all here,’ ’’ DeJesus said, describing the moment in the clubhouse when the non-waiver trade deadline passed without the Cubs making a final-day trade.
“That’s what the extent of it was.”
No meetings, no fanfare, and no satisfaction for a front office — and even some players — hoping to get something done on a deadline day with less activity than usual.
A July that came in like a lion for the aggressively-selling Cubs went out with a whimper as the Cubs went the final five days of the month without being able to find trades for closer Kevin Gregg, DeJesus or catcher Dioner Navarro.
It doesn’t mean the Cubs won’t go into the winter employing the same sign-to-flip approach to free agency for another year. It doesn’t mean the Cubs are holding onto players because they feel they’re any closer to being ready to win than they felt last spring.
Mostly, according to major-league sources, it means there was little, if any, interest in the final days for those players in a market that got steadily quieter in the final week before the deadline.
The St. Louis Cardinals became a late candidate for Navarro when Yadier Molina’s knee injury forced him to the disabled list, but the Cards were unwilling to risk even a modest prospect who might have a chance to become a contributor for their rivals.
The Cubs also had trade discussions about setup man James Russell, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and pitcher Carlos Villanueva, but all have at least one more year of club control and drew too little interest to trade under those circumstances.
“We felt like we had a high, but not unreasonably high, price on some guys,” general manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged. “A lot of the guys being asked about were being controlled going forward. I feel like [not trading those players] makes our winter potentially a little easier.”
Schierholtz signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal last winter and has another year of club control through arbitration, likely at $4.5 million to $5.5 million next year, depending on his finish.
The Cubs were unwilling to sell low and can test the market for him again in the winter or next July.
“I was a little surprised,” Villanueva said of the Cubs finishing without another trade after making six of them from July 2 through 26, by far the most active sellers.
Hoyer said they’re not necessarily done and plan to seek trades in August through the more nuanced waiver process.
DeJesus, who has $1.44 million left on this year’s salary and a $1.5 million buyout on his $6.5 million club option, is a nearly $3 million cost to a team that claims him and could be an August trade candidate.
Hoyer didn’t directly answer a question about whether the Cubs planned to exercise his 2014 option, saying: “We’ll certainly be talking to [him and his agent]. There’s a ton of positives, and we’d love to have him in a Cubs uniform going forward.”
Although the Cubs didn’t deal in the final days of July, they acquired third-base prospect Mike Olt, starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop and at least five pitching prospects (with the option of adding two more) in trades during the month.
“You can never promise what position you’re going to be in going forward,” Hoyer said. “I never say we’re not going to be sellers again; you don’t want to be. But I do feel a lot better that as an organization we have a lot more talent now than we did certainly 12 months ago.”