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Cubs’ next phase: Beef up pitching

Updated: September 7, 2014 6:44AM



DENVER — If the decision to put Javy Baez in the lineup for the rest of the season doesn’t put the Cubs’ rebuilding process on the clock, it certainly, finally, pushes the big-league part of the equation.

The top four spots in the lineup before Tuesday night’s 12-inning, 6-5 win were occupied by Arismendy Alcantara, Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro — players whom many see as building blocks. With $30  million outfielder Jorge Soler coming perhaps as soon as September, and top prospect Kris Bryant due early next season, the most urgent timeline now appears to involve pitching.

‘‘Are we mindful of the fact that we need to address our impact pitching and our pitching depth? Absolutely,’’ team president Theo Epstein said during a conference call Tuesday. ‘‘Will that be our top priority this winter? Yeah, it certainly will be. But it’s more important that we make the right moves than we make those moves immediately.’’

According to sources, the Cubs have had internal discussions about former Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester, a pending free agent who was traded to the Oakland Athletics last week. And they’ve looked at potential trades and at projected 2015 free agents.

‘‘We’ve been open about the fact that it’s an area we’re going to have to address,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘And we’re going to have to allocate some resources to address it, whether those resources come in the form of dollars or in the form of players that we ultimately trade to get some pitching.

‘‘But we’re not in a rush. I don’t think we can force things and make things happen. We’re not at a point where things are going to magically come together all at once. This is a process, and we’re starting to integrate some talented prospects onto our major-league roster, and that process will continue over the next year or two.’’

That appears to be the front office’s pitching timeline.

‘‘We look at offseasons in concert,’’ Epstein said. ‘‘So we really look at this offseason and next offseason as a window, during which we have to add — and will add — impact pitching.

‘‘We won’t necessarily look at it as exclusively this offseason. Will we try to get the ball rolling? Will we try to add some impact pitching? Yeah, we will. But I think we take a slightly broader view of when that has to happen.’’

Notes

Reliever Blake Parker was optioned to Class AAA Iowa to make room on the roster for Baez.

◆ Reliever Kyuji Fujikawa (Tommy John surgery) joined the team in Denver as his minor-league rehab assignment expires. He’s scheduled to be added to the 40-man and 25-man rosters Wednesday. Because Baez took a pitcher’s spot, that likely means a position player will be moved Wednesday.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

Twitter: @GDubCub



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