Of the six trades made during the first week of July, the Cubs were involved in four of them. The most recent trade occurred last night, as the Cubs shipped right-handed bench bat Scott Hairston to the Nationals for pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro. The Cubs are expected to continue stockpiling young players this month in more trades. The latest on the team:
- The Dodgers and Indians both believe Matt Garza will be traded and have been "heavily scouting" the right-hander, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. The Giants and Rangers are also scouting Garza's start tonight (Twitter links). The Dodgers' continued involvement is interesting given their recent acquisition of Ricky Nolasco, though it's probably no surprise that the Dodgers are again targeting as many notable players as possible.
- The Cubs have been quick to trade players after signing them as free agents in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era, but Hoyer said today on a conference call he doesn't think free agents will shy away from the team for that reason. "I would hope that we cease being sellers on an annual basis," Hoyer explained, also noting that each situation is taken on an individual basis and, for example, "A lot of places weren’t willing to guarantee [Scott Feldman] a rotation spot coming off a so-so year in Texas." MLB.com's Carrie Muskat has the full quotes on her blog.
- Garza perhaps the best available starting pitcher, has "opened a lot of eyes the way he's thrown the last four, fives times out," said Hoyer. Garza, a 29-year-old in his contract year, has allowed only three runs over his last 30 innings and takes on the White Sox tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
- Both the Cubs and Nationals will receive a player to be named later in the Hairston trade, but Hoyer told reporters that component "will not affect the balance of the deal."
- Third baseman Kris Bryant is one of five first-rounders who remains unsigned; the Cubs drafted him second overall. Hoyer was reluctant to provide an update on negotiations with adviser Scott Boras, but said, "We’re confident we’ll get it done. We’ll make it an exceptionally fair offer. If Kris wants to be a Cub and be a professional baseball player, I’m confident we’ll get a deal done. Sometimes it takes a deadline to make a deal, and we have a deadline coming up shortly. In a lot of ways, I think it’s a plus at this point." Draft guru Jim Callis of Baseball America expects all five first-rounders to sign by Friday's deadline.
- 18-year-old Taiwanese righty JenHo Tseng, ranked #29 on Jesse Sanchez's top 30 international prospect list for MLB.com, is "known for his upright, quick delivery and a fastball that has reached 95 mph." The Cubs have emerged as the favorite for Tseng, tweets Sanchez, and he's expected to command at least $1.5MM. Assuming Eloy Jimenez's $2.8MM deal with the Cubs is finalized, and the Cubs add Tseng at around $1.5MM, they appear a lock to exceed their bonus pool by more than 10% even if they max it out by acquiring more pool space. As explained by Ben Badler of Baseball America, the penalty for going 10-15% over the pool is a 100% tax on the overage and, more importantly, a $500K per player cap in the 2014-15 spending period. 15% or more means a $250K cap.