08/01/12 1:21 AM ET
Cubs add depth to farm system with three deals
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
But what about right now? The Cubs entered Tuesday's game with a 15-9 record in July, yet have lost two of their starting pitchers in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, their top right-handed bat off the bench in Reed Johnson and the regular catcher, Geovany Soto.
"If there's any small part of this that's hard for us it's that," general manager Jed Hoyer said about all the moves. "We have played really well. Hopefully, they'll continue to do that. We'll do what we can to make the next two months as competitive as we possibly can."
Hoyer said when the Cubs were having a tough time finding a good match for Dempster, there was debate as to whether they should keep the right-hander, who will be a free agent after this season.
"But ultimately, he's a free agent, and we felt like the right thing to do was to keep adding talent to the farm system," Hoyer said. "We've said a number of times we don't have enough depth in the farm system or enough good young players. We had a chance to add two guys we liked a lot, so we took that chance. It was a debate -- keep him, not keep him. He's a free agent at the end of the year, and if he comes back, that's wonderful. As far as today, the right thing to do was to get talent for him."
The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva from the Rangers for Dempster.
Hendricks, 22, was an eighth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Dartmouth, and he was 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Class A Myrtle Beach. He had 112 strikeouts and had walked 15 over 130 2/3 innings.
"He's not a hard thrower, but not a soft tosser either," Hoyer said. "Our reports had him up to 93 [mph], and he mixes his pitches well. When you look at his performance, he's done a nice job."
Villanueva, 21, was batting .285 with 19 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in 100 games with Myrtle Beach.
"Villanueva is a guy we've liked for a while," Hoyer said. "He has a good approach a the plate, has some power."
Hoyer wasn't sure where the two would be assigned in the Cubs' Minor League system. On Monday night, they acquired right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves. Vizcaino, considered the top prospect in the deal, was recovering from Tommy John surgery, while Chapman was pitching at Triple-A Gwinnett this year.
The Cubs also added right-handed pitcher Jake Brigham from the Rangers for Soto. He was 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco.
Is Hoyer happy with the depth in the Cubs' organization?
"We're getting there," he said. "We have to have a lot more good Drafts and make more good trades. I think the best teams are able to replenish the bullpen internally and able to bring up starters from the Minor Leagues whenever they need to, and we're not at that point yet. Since we got here, we've worked hard to build up that depth. I don't think the job is complete."
Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.
Soriano, Cubs talked about possible trade
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano confirmed Tuesday night that the Cubs' front office did talk to him about accepting a possible deal before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Soriano has a no-trade clause and can veto any move.
"I'm here, nothing happened," Soriano said. "I try to come every day and do my job in the field."
The 36-year-old outfielder didn't want to leave the Cubs.
"I'm very happy to stay here," he said. "It's sad that a lot of people go, and for now the team looks a little different. We've got to come every day and be strong mentally and try to do the job."
Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein talked to Soriano about his options.
"He appreciated what I did," Soriano said. "They were open to a couple things. They had a chance to get something for me. It didn't happen, and I don't know why, but I'm here. I get to keep doing what I like to do, and that's play baseball."
The Cubs definitely have a youth movement under way following the trades of Paul Maholm, Ryan Dempster, Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto.
"It's tough," Soriano said. "We see a couple key players leave. There's two months, and we have to keep grinding and play hard. I know they want to build a new team and young guys and that's good, but we have two months left in the season. It's not over yet."
Dempster had 10-and-5 rights, and had a say in where he was going. But he will be a free agent after this season. Soriano has two years remaining on his eight-year, $136 million contract.
"Dempster's situation and mine is kind of the same," Soriano said. "He's a free agent next year and I have two years, and I think mine is a little more complicated. It depends on the team and what they want. I'm open to a couple teams, and we'll see what happens in the future. We'll see what happens in August and when the season is over."
The Cubs could put Soriano through waivers. Now that the non-waiver Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player. If nobody claims the player, he can then be traded.
Soriano is one home run away from his 11th straight 20-homer season, and has hit 19 home runs since May 15.
"We had some interest," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "You should have interest -- he's having a [great] year."
Teams shy away from Garza due to injury
CHICAGO -- The Cubs traded two of their starting pitchers and had conversations with teams about a third, Matt Garza, as well, general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday.
However, because Garza has not pitched since July 21, teams were hesitant to make a deal. Garza is not expected to start until Aug. 7 in San Diego. The right-hander came out of his last start against the Cardinals after three innings because of cramping in his right triceps. An MRI confirmed the cramping and showed some fluid there, but otherwise was clean.
Hoyer said teams did inquire about Garza prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"Teams ultimately shied away," Hoyer said. "They haven't seen the guy on the mound. It certainly hurt his market."
Garza did throw a bullpen session on Monday, and it went "extremely well," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The right-hander was able to throw all his pitches, had velocity and looked ready to go.
"He was confident Tuesday seemed like a fair date to think about, anyway," Sveum said. "We'll know more when he throws his next side."
Cubs recall Cardenas, Castillo, Coleman
CHICAGO -- The Cubs recalled infielder Adrian Cardenas, catcher Welington Castillo and pitcher Casey Coleman from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday to fill the vacancies created by three trades.
Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm were dealt to the Braves on Monday night, Geovany Soto was sent to the Rangers early Tuesday and Ryan Dempster was traded to Texas just prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Soto had started 51 games compared to 28 by Steve Clevenger, and Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Clevenger and Castillo will share the job.
"Probably right now, just splitting time," Sveum said. "I think it'll be a little more 50-50 now."
Coleman (0-1, 7.32 ERA) started Tuesday night in place of Dempster.
Sveum expected to meet with general manager Jed Hoyer and discuss the roster on Thursday's off-day.
"We'll probably sit down in the next few days and sit back and say, 'OK, what do we want to do in the last 50 games of the year, the last 60 games of the year,'" Sveum said.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.