Alfonso Soriano and Matt Garza are the two big names still left on the board, and the Cubs left little doubt that they are still very much available.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer arent necessarily done dealing, and theres a good chance the two Cubs executives banked some background information during all those phone calls before Tuesdays non-waiver trade deadline.
Soriano threw his hands up in the air before running to the outfield during batting practice at Wrigley Field, saying that it was all just rumors. He indicated that he was not presented with offers from the San Francisco Giants or Detroit Tigers to accept or reject.
We had some interest, Hoyer said. We had talked to him about places he might go. Im not going to characterize how far it went, but certainly we did have some of those conversations. He should have interest. Hes having a hell of a year.
Soriano began the day hitting .274 with 19 homers and 61 RBI. He hit his first home run on May 15 and had posted a .945 OPS since then. Dave McKay has coached him up in left field and he brings energy and optimism to the clubhouse every day.
This had to be considered a softer deadline for Soriano, who has no-trade rights and is owed almost 43 million through the rest of this season and the next two years combined. That price tag makes him a virtual lock to clear waivers in August.
Ryan Dempsters 10-and-5 rights were an obstacle in dealing with the Atlanta Braves, but Hoyer felt like those discussions helped lay the groundwork for trading left-hander Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson for two pitching prospects.
This winter the Cubs can circle back and talk to teams about Garza (triceps), who hasnt pitched in a game since July 21 and isnt expected to start again until Aug. 7 in San Diego.
We did have some dialogue about him, Hoyer said. Some teams were still interested despite the fact that he hasnt pitched. But its hard teams ultimately shied away (after) not seeing a guy on the mound. So it certainly hurt his market. It hurt the number of phone calls we got on him because he wasnt going to pitch until after the deadline.
The Cubs said the MRI on Garzas right elbow was clean except for a trace of fluid. He threw a bullpen on Monday and when healthy will again become a unique asset. Hes 28 years old, under club control through 2013 and proven in the American League East.
The timing was unfortunate, because he is likely to pitch here pretty soon, Hoyer said. The timing didnt allow teams to feel like they could see him out on the mound and I understand that. Teams are making trades this time of year to try to win the World Series.
The Cubs arent all-in for this year or next, which makes Garza trade bait.
Throughout all the speculation, Garza was understandably preoccupied with other things, like his pregnant wife. On Tuesday he went on his Twitter account to announce: God has blessed my family with a beautiful baby girl...Welcome to the world my beautiful Summer.