Scott Feldman trade is how the Cubs’ sell-off begins
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 2, 2013 10:40PM
FILE - In this June 15, 2013, file photo, Chicago Cubs' Scott Feldman delivers a pitch against the New York Mets in a baseball game in New York. The Cubs traded Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, July 2, and former All-Star reliever Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
Day of trades
• Traded RHP Scott Feldman and C Steve Clevenger to Baltimore for RHPs Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop and two international signing bonus slots.
• Traded RHP Carlos Marmol to the L.A. Dodgers for RHP Matt Guerrier.
• Traded INF Ronald Torreyes to Houston for two international signing bonus slots.
Updated: August 4, 2013 6:36AM
OAKLAND, Calif. — If there was any doubt that they would be the most aggressive sellers heading into July, the Cubs eliminated it when they sent the first swing of the wrecking ball crashing through their roster Tuesday.
Four wins in five games and three consecutive series victories weren’t about to slow a process that was inevitable as soon as the Cubs got off to a slow start in April.
Before the Cubs reached the halfway mark of their season Tuesday, they completed three trades, including one that sent pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger to the Baltimore Orioles for hard-throwing, young right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop.
“It’s tough to see it,” veteran Alfonso Soriano said of the start of another roster demolition, which eventually might involve him if he keeps hitting like he did last weekend. “But if we played good enough and didn’t give too many games away, we could be [buying instead of selling].”
The only thing certain at this point is that more productive veterans will be shipped out by the end of the month — starting with valued commodities Matt Garza and Kevin Gregg at the top of the list — regardless of how well the Cubs play this month or the message it might send.
“Our job is to build a great organization. Their job is to play hard every single night and look for wins,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “As far as the message, unfortunately, we’re 10 games under .500 and have three teams in our division with the three best records in the National League or close to it. I think, realistically, our chance of playing in October is very small, and we need to add a lot of talent to get better in the future.”
In addition to the Feldman trade, the Cubs also finalized the Carlos Marmol deal, sending the embattled reliever to the Los Angeles Dodgers for reliever Matt Guerrier and salary relief.
In relation to the 2013 and ’14 payrolls, a source said the Cubs will have received about $550,000 in relief from the $4.9 million left on Marmol’s contract by the time the deal plays out.
The Cubs also traded minor-league infielder Ronald Torreyes to the Houston Astros for two international free-agent “slots” and the MLB-assigned bonus-cap space that comes with it.
The key to the trade for the Cubs is 97-mph-throwing Arrieta, 27, one of the Orioles’ top prospects as he rose toward the majors — despite a 20-25 record and 5.46 ERA. The Cubs are optimistic pitching coach Chris Bosio can redirect an attitude that has been criticized at times in Baltimore and iron out the right-hander’s uneven performances.
Arrieta is expected to spend much of the second half of the season in the rotation.
Asked about Hoyer’s explanation for starting the sell-off now, clubhouse leader and core starter Jeff Samardzija said: “Of course, it’s tough to hear. But he was right in saying our job in here is to win.
“That’s really all it comes down to. . . . It doesn’t make it any easier when you lose a guy like Scott Feldman. It’s the same thing I said last year when we traded [Ryan] Dempster. The team doesn’t get better by losing guys like that.”
Certainly not right away.
Asked about the message the front office might be sending to players, manager Dale Sveum said: “I’m not concerned about that. We’re still viable in being able to fill those roles [of departed players] right now. Obviously, if you start getting any thinner, it could change a little that way.
“But I’m not worried about it. They’re professional players.”