Cubs bracing for trade-deadline madness to begin

Cubs bracing for trade-deadline madness to begin
July 1, 2013, 5:45 pm
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The Baltimore Orioles acquired the rights of Cubs pitcher Scott Feldman in a trade earlier today. Tune in to Comcast SportsNet as Chris Rusin takes the mound in Oakland beginning with Cubs Pregame Live at 8:30 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO – The Cubs should have traded everyone yesterday. Or they’re going to trade everyone tomorrow.

At least that’s what it feels like if you inhale enough information, with your head buried in the iPhone checking Twitter and hitting refresh on MLBTradeRumors.com. Cubs manager Dale Sveum got it wrong: Those twits do lie.

But on July 1, there’s no doubt team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are getting ready for the sell-off, with the possibility pieces from a 35-45 team could be moved as soon as the All-Star break.

By Monday night, the Cubs were very close to trading Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers. A few teams had been kicking the tires, wondering if the one-time All-Star reliever could be salvaged after being designated for assignment last week.

The scouts will make judgments with their own eyes on Tuesday and Wednesday night at O.co Coliseum, where Scott Feldman and Matt Garza will make showcase starts against the Oakland A’s. Barring a last-minute glitch, they will be pitching in pennant races later this summer.

Of course, Garza’s elbow injury took him off the trade market last July, when the Texas Rangers were among the teams expressing strong interest. “Ryan Dempster Watch” saw a deal with the Atlanta Braves collapse once it leaked on Twitter, and the veteran pitcher weighed his no-trade rights up until a buzzer-beater deal with the Rangers.

But it’s difficult to truly create a sense of urgency, drive the price higher and spark a bidding war with an entire month left before the non-waiver deadline.

“Everyone always looks at that question from a seller’s side,” Hoyer said. “It also depends on the buyer’s side. Some teams want to wait until the very end to see if they’re in the race or not. And some teams clearly think they’re in the race early to where they want to solidify that position.

[RELATED: Cubs, Dodgers near Marmol deal]

“Some of that is dependent on the other side deciding: ‘Hey, these are players we want and we want them back now.’ As opposed to: ‘Let’s wait and see what position we’re in on (July 31).’”

The Cubs front office knows two systems almost as well as their own: the Boston Red Sox and San Diego Padres. The Red Sox picked up West Coast coverage during this six-game road trip through Seattle and Oakland.

The Fourth of July week has begun with only four games separating the Arizona Diamondbacks in first place and the Dodgers in last. With no team running away with the division, the entire National League West figures to be looking for pitching.

Industry sources said that while the San Francisco Giants are circling the Cubs, they don’t necessarily view Garza and Feldman as primary targets now. With Garza, you’d weigh the medical concerns and his walk-year freedom against his postseason credentials (2008 ALCS MVP). But Feldman (7-6, 3.46 ERA), who’s from the Bay Area and also positioned to become a free agent, could be a possible fit.

“There’s nothing I can do about it,” Feldman said. “I’d love to just stay on this team and I love the guys here. I think that we’re heading in the right direction. You never know what’s going to happen, but it’s kind of out of my control at this point.

“All I can really say is I hope I’m pitching well and I hope that I stay here.”

The Cubs will be motivated to move Kevin Gregg, the lightning-in-a-bottle closer who has converted 13 of 14 save chances after getting released by the Dodgers in April. Gregg probably wouldn’t close for a playoff team, but he stays in control – 29 strikeouts vs. eight walks in 27.1 innings – and would be a stabilizing force in the late innings.

The Cubs aren’t in a rush to trade James Russell (2.53 ERA), who is 27 years old and under club control for two more seasons. The lefty reliever would like to be a long-term piece of the puzzle.

The same logic could lead the front office to hold onto outfielders Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, who both remain under club control next year.

The Cubs projected Schierholtz would hit 20 homers and play plus defense when they signed him to a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the idea he would stick around in 2014. Sveum has mentioned Schierholtz, who’s arbitration-eligible next year, as a possible All-Star.

The Cubs hold a $6.5 million option on DeJesus for next season (or a $1.5 million buyout) and he has been a strong veteran presence in the clubhouse. The trade talk doesn’t matter until he recovers from a sprained right shoulder and comes off the disabled list, likely later this month.

The noise is only going to get louder. Just ask Edwin Jackson, who’s pitched for eight teams across the past nine seasons.

“Unless you have a no-trade clause in your contract, then you have no control over where you go,” Jackson said. “All trades aren’t bad trades. You have some trades that work out well for people. I was traded from the White Sox to St. Louis (through Toronto in July 2011) and ended up coming out with a World Series ring.

“You just never know how trades work out. But if you have no control over it, it’s definitely something you shouldn’t worry about. Just take things in stride and roll with the punches and handle things as they come.”

Get ready for a busy month, because the Cubs are open for business.