In the month of July, Cubs office men Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were very busy people, trading away five players from their major league roster during that time. Though they were rumored to possibly deal as many as six or seven others, no trades were made on deadline day.
The month started off with the Cubs making a series of moves. They sent starting pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to Baltimore, traded Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers, and sent minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes to Houston. The first two deals gave the Cubs three pitchers with big league experience. Matt Guerrier and Pedro Strop have both performed well in the bullpen, while Jake Arrieta has made one start for Chicago.
Almost a week after those deals were made, they traded veteran outfielder Scott Hairston to the Washington Nationals. Hairston, who was signed in February of this year, had a dismal .172 batting average with nearly half of his 17 hits being home runs (8). In return, the Cubs received 21-year-old starting pitcher Ivan Pineyro. In four starts with the Daytona Cubs (high class-A affiliate), Pineyro has a 1.96 ERA, an 8.2 K/9 ratio, and has walked just one batter in 23 innings pitched.
Though most talk of this trade was covered up by a certain division rival being suspended for PED use, the Cubs also sent Matt Garza to Texas. Garza had been on fire for the Cubs, and was considered to be the best starting pitcher available on the market. The Cubs got a load of prospects in return including third baseman Mike Olt, starting pitchers Justin Grimm and C.J. Edwards, as well as one or two players to be named later. Olt has a little bit of big league experience, and is figures to be the near future at third base for the Cubs. Grimm got a lot of major league starts this year thanks to an injured Ranger rotation, and could be a guy who makes his best contributions out of the ‘pen. Edwards, also 21, had an impressive Cubs debut with Daytona, striking out 8 batters and not allowing a run in five innings of work.
Their last day of deals was similar to the first because they made multiple trades. On the last Friday of the month, the Cubs first traded veteran outfielder Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees. Soriano, who waived his no-trade rights to allow the deal, had hit 17 home runs, driven in 51 runs, and stole ten bases this year for the Cubs. In this deal, they got back another young pitching prospect. 22-year-old starter Corey Black didn’t have the best of debuts for Daytona, giving up four runs and two home runs in four innings, but he did strike out eight batters. The other trade wasn’t nearly as interesting, as they traded minor league pitcher Guillermo Moscoso to San Francisco for cash or a player to be named later.
The Cubs were also reported to be in the mix with trading some of their other major league players. As far as outfielders go, Nate Schierholtz was mostly linked to the Pirates, while David DeJesus’s name was also thrown out there as an outfielder on the market. Lefty reliever James Russell was reportedly targeted by Atlanta, but they ended up trading for former Cub Scott Downs instead. Kevin Gregg was also listed as a possible reliever, and reportedly drew interest from Colorado. Also, Dioner Navarro’s name came up in rumors on deadline day after the Cardinals placed Yadier Molina on the disabled list.
One thing that can be taken away from this July? Theo and Jed are trying to improve the entire organization. What the Cubs once lacked in player talent and depth at the minor league level is now being addressed. Epstein has had experience with this kind of situation, building up Boston’s organization and eventually winning a pair of World Series titles. It may not look like much now, but these guys know what they are doing.