Cubs might find trade partners before Opening Day
BY GORDON WITTENMYER Staff Reporter March 24, 2014 10:07PM
Updated: April 26, 2014 6:25AM
MESA, Ariz. — Nothing appears imminent, but sources say the Cubs are fielding late-spring calls from teams trying to fill roster needs before the season opens for most next week.
Low-level talks the final week of spring training aren’t unusual, but the Cubs shopped pitcher Jeff Samardzija and others all winter, and every executive in baseball knows much of the roster is open for discussion.
A handful of teams are looking for infielders (Darwin Barney?), and outfielder Nate Schierholtz has been linked to the Detroit Tigers’ need for outfield help.
Sources say it’s possible the Cubs could deal somebody from their big-league roster by Monday’s opener, but estimate the chances as no greater than 25 percent.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Arizona Republic, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels expressed regret over the Matt Garza trade he made with the Cubs last July that netted the Cubs top pitching prospect C.J. Edwards, big-league pitcher Justin Grimm and potential Opening Day third baseman Mike Olt, along with minor-league pitcher Neil Ramirez.
“I thought way too short-term with the Garza deal last year,” Daniels said. “That one’s got a chance to haunt us and haunt me.”
Cubs manager Rick Renteria saw all from that trade except Edwards in camp this spring.
“I won’t speak for him,” Renteria said, “but do I think we’re in a good place with the guys we got? Sure. And that’s all I’ll say.”
Grimm said he saw the comments, and “that surprised me. ... In terms of me and Olt and Edwards, hopefully it does haunt him.”
After another day of minor-league games Monday, including his first action in the field since a March 2 hamstring injury, shortstop Starlin Castro said he’s close to being ready for the season opener — “really close.”
Next up for Castro is live batting practice Tuesday morning and an aggressive fielding practice later in the day — “simulated game-like, reactionary defensive work at shortstop,” Renteria said. “We’re going to push him.”
Castro, who said he felt no pain running hard in Monday’s game, said the biggest test comes when he returns to big-league game action.
“It’s not the same intensity over there in the minor leagues [compared] to the big leagues,” he said. “I want to see when I play in a big-league game, and I can know where I’m at. I feel very good.”