As trade market heats up, Cubs know reinforcements are on the way

As trade market heats up, Cubs know reinforcements are on the way

Theo Epstein's old club, the Boston Red Sox, have already pulled the trigger on three trades this month — including Thursday's acquisition of pitcher Drew Pomeranz — before the second half of the season even opens.

But Epstein's current team has not made a move as of Friday's second-half opener against the Texas Rangers at Wrigley Field and at this point, rest might have been the biggest reinforcement for the Cubs.

The Cubs just finished playing what will likely be their toughest stretch of the season — 24 games in 24 days leading into the All-Star Break.

They limped into the midseason break going 6-15 in the final 21 of those games and watching their lead in the division dip to seven games.

A big part of that has been due to the fact the Cubs' starting rotation has struggled mightily, ranking last in Major League Baseball in WAR for July with an 8.81 ERA and 1-5 record, allowing a whopping 3.45 homers per nine innings.

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But that hasn't caused Epstein's front office to panic and rush out to acquire a new pitcher.

"There's always ways to improve the club," Epstein said before Friday's game. "All of baseball operations is hard at work on it. We were all through the All-Star Break. Had a few things going on, but didn't get anything done."

Epstein admitted the Cubs are always trying to weigh this year with the long-term goals of the franchise.

"Operating on different fronts at the same time," he said. "Always looking to try to find long-term starting pitching. That's super important. Sometimes, during a deadline could be a better forum for that than during the offseason. Sometimes it's not.

"This time of year, it's important to stay focused primarily on this year's club. You can't think too far in advance in baseball. When you have a contending club, you have a chance to do something special. But always have one eye on the opportunities that may not really help you until down the line as well."

The Cubs already have reinforcements on the way in terms of their own players getting healthy.

Leadoff man Dexter Fowler (hamstring) is on track to return from the disabled list late next week. He is in Chicago this weekend and will head out on a rehab assignment Monday.

Jorge Soler is also working his way back from a hamstring injury, but his timetable is currently unknown, though manager Joe Maddon said Soler is progressing.

The Cubs got Clayton Richard back in their bullpen after a finger issue, but it also came at the loss of Trevor Cahill, who was placed on the disabled list Friday with right patellar tendinitis.

The Cubs have some help in the starting pitching department with Adam Warren, who joined the rotation for one start right before the break and is still stretched out. 

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Warren is currently in the Cubs' bullpen, but Maddon said the plan is to insert the right-hander into the rotation again down the line to help alleviate some stress on the other five starters, though an exact timeline is unknown right now.

Beyond Joe Nathan (who is currently in Triple-A Iowa rehabbing his elbow and has progressed to throwing on back-to-back days), the Cubs are still in the market for some bullpen help and with the trade deadline just over two weeks away, there are currently 19 teams within 5.5 games of a playoff spot.

Epstein knows the market can change quickly and teams' health and desires change.

"I don't think it's productive to pigeonhole yourself to thinking, 'We need this one specific role and that's going to be the key to improving this club,'" Epstein said. "There are so many variables. Things change. The way you look right now might not be the way you look in mid-September.

"Having an open mind and understanding things are going to change — we're going to have injuries the rest of the way. We're going to have guys really step up and improve. We're going to have a lot of guys who stumble. [We have to be] open-minded to adding talented players in different roles knowing that could helps us down the line.

"The more talent you have — as long as you don't detract from the chemistry of the group — is always good."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark


Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: