Chicago Cubs: Rumors
CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio treated Wednesday like it was a "normal day" despite the trade rumors swirling around him.
"Right now, there is nothing on," Bonifacio said after the Cubs' 6-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies. "I'm with the team [Thursday]."
Bonifacio was held out of the lineup Thursday for a second straight game in case a trade went down. Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Wednesday it was the "prudent" thing to do. Renteria sounded doubtful Bonifacio will be on the team by the end of Thursday.
"It’s out of my hands," Bonifacio said. "I’m just going to come to the field [Thursday]."
An erroneous report that San Francisco Giants second baseman Dan Uggla was released on Wednesday night led to speculation Bonifacio could be headed west, but as of Wednesday afternoon there were at least four other teams interested in the versatile player. The Seattle Mariners, Baltimore Orioles and his old team, the Kansas City Royals, have reportedly shown interest.
Bonifacio was asked if he would be excited to go to a contending team.
"You want to be part of that, but right now, you're still part of the Cubs," he said.
His agent, Paul Kinzer, told him "maybe something is going on," Bonifacio said. The Cubs aren’t hiding the fact they wouldn’t mind moving the soon-to-be free agent.
The non-waiver trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. CT.
Fresh off the collapse of a trade with the Los Angeles Angels this weekend that would have landed right-handed starter Dan Haren, the Cubs will engage in more talks this week when the annual general managers meetings take place in Indian Wells, Calif.
The Cubs' three official representatives at the meetings, which run from Wednesday to Friday, will be president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, and senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod. Assistant general managers Randy Bush and Shiraz Rehman also will be on hand.
While trades are still an option for the Cubs to fill rotation spots as well as bullpen, third-base and center-field voids, there is the free-agent route, as well, and representatives of available players also will be on hand this week.
“I would probably go in with the expectation that it’s groundwork with the possibility that things move a little faster [this year],” Hoyer said of the strategy for the meetings. “That would be pretty early. It’s a little earlier GM meetings even by GM meetings standards.”
The situation wasn’t lost on Soriano, who said earlier this month when trade rumors arose that he didn’t care for the weather in San Francisco and reiterated that thought after a 6-4 Cubs victory Friday.
“I feel sorry for them because they try to get me because they know what I can do,” Soriano said. “And I tried to show them today.”
He stopped trade talks before they could ever get started by saying that he didn't want to play in San Francisco. He not only said it before the non-waiver trade deadline but after it as well.
“It’s very hard to play on the West Coast, especially that field,” Soriano said. “It’s nothing against that team, they have a pretty good team. I think it’s more the city because the weather. They have a very good thing (going) and they are in first place but I want to go somewhere where I feel comfortable and I know that if I go to San Francisco I will not feel comfortable in the city. I think it’s comfortable with the team but not with the city.”
The waiver deadline passed Friday with Soriano still with the Cubs. Trade rumors are expected to pick up in the offseason, though, and Soriano sounds receptive to being moved.
“If they come to me I’ll think about it,” Soriano said. “If they want to build the team, if they can get something for me I’m happy to go somewhere else where I can feel comfortable.”
It doesn’t sound like he will be able to stomach another season that approaches 100 losses.
“I don’t want to have the same year that I have again this year, losing a lot of games,” Soriano said. “But we’ll see. I’m part of the team right now so I don’t know about next year. But they are smart enough that if they want to have kind of the same team they will figure out what to do with me.”
Soriano, who has trade veto rights, was first reported to have rejected San Francisco as a potential landing spot before the non-waiver trade deadline.
After the deadline, when Cabrera’s suspension was announced, he went on the record to say his issue with San Francisco and its cool evenings would probably prompt him to reject a deal during the waiver period. With that waiver period ending Friday, Soriano is still a member of the Cubs.
Giants players said Friday, though, that the cool temperatures and evening breezes along the San Francisco Bay are actually a benefit to playing with the club.
That doesn’t exactly come as good news to the segment of Cubs fans disappointed that Dempster wasn’t willing to go to the Atlanta Braves last week in exchange for talented young pitcher Randall Delgado. Dempster can veto any trade as a right he earned from being a 10-year veteran who has played the last five seasons with the same team.
“The thing is, there are tons of rumors and tons of speculation all the time,” Dempster said Monday. “This is something that I have tried to keep very close to me just so that it gets handled the best it can. Sometimes there are rumors that are true and sometimes there are rumors that aren’t, but I can’t control that. I can just control what I can do that that’s be as prepared as I can to do my job and try to handle things the best I can.
“I’m not perfect. I’m a human being and will make mistakes. I won’t handle everything the right way every time, but hopefully I can learn from any mistakes I do make and try to be better for it next time.”
Dempster did not specify whether or not his handling of the Braves trade was something he felt he didn’t handle properly. While he seems to have the utmost respect for the Cubs organization, he also wants to do what is in his best interest.
In that sense, he doesn’t have any regrets about taking his likely inevitable trade down to the final 24 hours before the 3 p.m. CST deadline on Tuesday.
“There is no right or wrong decision,” Dempster said. “Either way it will take you down a journey of life that it ends up being. You adapt and go with whatever situation it is.”
Usually vibrant and social, Dempster has kept his frequent one-liners in check in recent weeks. It has been a trying year with his expected trade, two stints on the disabled list and the divorce filing from his wife Jenny that was submitted before the season.
Dempster said he isn’t upset that his divorce has been brought into the storyline of his potential trade.
“Any time you are a sports personality or any kind of person that is in the public eye that’s always a possibility but it doesn’t affect or change the way I do things on the field,” he said. “I don’t think it has and it won’t continue to do it as I move forward from here.”
Indeed, Dempster has managed to put distractions aside. As play began Monday, he had the second best ERA in baseball at 2.25 just behind the 2.22 mark of the Giants’ Ryan Vogelsong.
As for reported friction between Dempster and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein for the way the failed trade with the Braves was handled, nobody was saying there were any issues. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have been hunkered down in the Cubs’ offices across the street from Wrigley Field and Dempster denied any problems.
“No, not at all,” Dempster said when asked if there was conflict. “They have a job to do. They have to do what is best for the Chicago Cubs and I understand that. They have been really honest with me, it seems like, so I’m just trying to do what I can to continue to do my job as a player and that’s continue to pitch. My focus is on that every day and away from here I try to block it out and push forward because there is a lot of season left. I want to continue to go out there, stay healthy and do my job.”
Aware that Cubs some fans have railed against him on social-media outlets, Dempster tried to stay focused on the positives.
“I don’t mean it in an offensive way but I know who I am as a person and I’m trying to do everything I can here in the clubhouse and do right by the guys,” he said. “People will have all kind of different opinions and I understand that especially in today’s world of social media and I’m trying to handle it the best way I can and be as professional as I can and be ready every fifth day to go out there and pitch.
“The nice part is that every day when I go out on the field, whether it’s for batting practice or during the game I hear nothing but great things from a lot of the fans. They always tell me they don’t want me to go anywhere, they want me to stay and if I did leave they appreciated everything I have given on the field. I am truly grateful for that and will continue to try and do that come tomorrow.”
The reality is that in a Cubs uniform, Dempster has just about run out of tomorrows.
The Cubs and Atlanta Braves agreed to a deal that would send 22-year-old pitcher Randall Delgado to Chicago for Dempster. All that was left was for Dempster, who has trade veto power with 10 years in the major leagues and five seasons with the same team, to sign off on the deal.
Dempster, who reportedly had the Braves second on his list of preferred teams behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, said he would take his time deciding on the deal. Meanwhile, Atlanta pulled its offer off the table a day after news of the trade came out.
"That's between (Dempster and the front office)," Samardzija said. "I haven't really heard too much about it. The only thing I'm going off of is the fact that Demp has 10 and five rights. When you earn those rights and you put your time in in this league -- which is not an easy league -- and you get that time in then you have the right to do what you want.
"He's a grown man, and he can do exactly what he pleases. Every day he is on our team I'm a happy guy because we're a better team with him than without him."
The Dodgers have had an offer on the table since July 19 for Dempster. The Cubs would like the Dodgers' top prospect, right-handed pitcher Zach Lee, added in the deal, sources told ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine. That may have caused a stalemate between the two sides.
Aside from Dempster, the Cubs are also listening to offers for Matt Garza, although he appears to be a tougher sell after an MRI revealed a slight fluid buildup in his right triceps area. He isn't expected to pitch until the end of this week at the earliest.
Through all the talk and rumors, Samardzija said the whole saga has not been a distraction for the Cubs, who are 14-9 in the month of July.
"I think you're talking about two pretty professional guys that come to work everyday regardless of any other situation that's going on," Samardzija said. "Every day they show up, they are going to pitch, they're going to pitch their butt off and do what they can to help the team win. As a teammate that's all you ask for. What happens up top there's not much you can do about it. But we come to play every day and enjoy the time we have together."
Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija joins "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss his first full season as a starter, Ryan Dempster trade talk and more.
Click here for more audio from ESPN Chicago.
Then again, they might consider staying as far from the classifieds as possible when it comes to Paul Maholm.
The lefty has been on somewhat of a wild ride of late. He had low value about a month ago, started looking like a solid trade piece in recent weeks and has suddenly emerged as a pitcher the Cubs might want to have stick around for a while.
The Cubs' two best trade chips, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, have proved difficult to move over the past week. Dempster has trade veto rights and Garza has been dealing with a sore arm.
The constant rumors and uncertainty surrounding Tuesday's 3 p.m. CST deadline has been hard on the Cubs. Manager Dale Sveum was asked if he is anxious for Wednesday to arrive.
"Tuesday at 3 o'clock will be fine too," he said, "not that I know the time or anything."
The expectation around baseball is that Dempster still gets traded by Tuesday. Teams that he had been linked to previously, like the Dodgers and Braves, are still in play, but others are expected to emerge as the deadline nears.
The sense is that the Cubs' leverage will improve as Tuesday's 3 p.m. CST deadline draws closer. Since it has become widely known that Dempster's No. 1 destination is Los Angeles, the Dodgers' offers have reportedly been well below what the Cubs are willing to accept.
As the game of chicken played by baseball general manager's intensifies while the clock starts ticking louder, the Cubs are expected to eventually jump on a deal they like.
Helping the Cubs on the Dempster front is that with every deal that goes down for a starting pitcher, it's one less option remaining for teams interested in adding an arm.
Dempster is still more highly regarded by National League teams since there is a sense that his arsenal of pitches wouldn't play as well in the American League.
More question marks actually surround Garza, who was previously believed to be the pitcher that would bring the better return package. Helping Garza's value is the fact that he still has one more full season before he reaches his first year of free agency.
Garza's sore right triceps has improved steadily since suffering a cramp last weekend at St. Louis, but teams still won't be able to see him pitch before the deadline. Garza is set for a bullpen session Monday afternoon and if he isn't traded, he would possibly return to action on the next road trip against the Dodgers, a team that had shown interest in acquiring him.
While Garza's sore arm has hurt the Cubs' trade leverage, what is helping it is the fact that the team is less inclined to settle for anything short of maximum return. Garza would still have solid value in the offseason, especially if he pitches well in the second half.
Pitchers aren't the only trade chips that have earned the Cubs calls from other clubs. Bryan LaHair, Darwin Barney, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker all have value to contenders looking to plug roster deficiencies either in the starting lineup or on the bench for the stretch drive.
CHICAGO – With three days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline, the Cubs appear to be stuck in limbo land.
The deadline has been hard on the players involved in rumors, but it has also been difficult for those expected to stick around after July 31, like the coaching staff. Manager Dale Sveum said everybody will feel much better once the clock strikes 3 p.m. CST on Tuesday.
“To get it behind us with everything that has happened, all the rumors and everything, whether they happen or not I think everybody will be glad it’s all over with,” Sveum said. “(But) it’s really not over with a lot of the time because of the waiver wire and all that. I think the main (subject of trades) will be shut down one way or another.”
At the same time, Sveum tried to downplay the difficulty in dealing with roster uncertainty.
“Like we keep saying, it’s something we have to deal with and we will deal with it after tomorrow,” Sveum said. “We’ll see what happens. We’ll have somebody here Monday or we might not need anybody. The other stuff is just what it is. Until it happens we can’t do anything about it.”
Monday’s rotation opening came about because Matt Garza is still dealing with a sore right arm after suffering a cramp during his start Saturday at St. Louis. Sveum used Thursday’s off day to push back Garza’s spot as far as he could, but now a fresh arm will be needed.
Justin Germano, who was acquired from the Red Sox last week, could be used Monday, or he could pitch Tuesday if Dempster is traded. If two starters are needed, the Cubs are expected to get somebody from Triple-A Iowa.
Casey Coleman could be a candidate to start next week. His return to the Iowa rotation last week was rough as he gave up nine runs in less than three innings, but he pitched better in his last outing, giving up three runs in 5 2/3 innings on Thursday. That would line him up perfectly to pitch Tuesday.
Left-hander Chris Rusin had been pitching well at Iowa, but he has a 7.36 ERA over his last 10 starts and gave up a combined 13 runs over his last two outings. Another possibility is veteran right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (2-5, 5.53 ERA), but he has been rocked to the tune of 18 earned runs over his last three starts. Lopez’s last outing was on Tuesday when he gave up eight earned runs.
PITTSBURGH -- A bizarre three-day stretch ended with Ryan Dempster remaining right in a Cubs uniform, but the reality is that much has changed.
After using his veto rights to nix a deal to the Atlanta Braves, indications are now that Dempster might not be dealt at all even though there are still five days remaining before the non-waiver trade deadline.
With nothing left to do but pitch, Dempster took the mound for the Cubs and fared well, but not good enough to win. He gave up a pair of solo home runs and a two-out RBI single to the Pirates’ Garrett Jones in the sixth inning that decided the 3-2 defeat.
After learning he wasn’t headed back out for the seventh inning, Dempster channeled his inner Carlos Zambrano by throwing a drink cooler to the ground and throwing his own drink against the wall before heading to the clubhouse.
While still frustrated over the defeat, Dempster had cooled off considerably in the postgame clubhouse.
“I’m allowed to be upset,” Dempster said. “I respect him a lot. That’s (manager Dale Sveum’s) decision. It doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. At the end of the day he’s just trying to do what’s best for the ballclub and I have nothing but respect for that. It’s just the competitor in me that wants to get out there and keep trying to pitch.”
Sure the outburst was the culmination of a frustrating outing, especially over the two-out Jones RBI, but the long three days had taken its toll too.
“It’s been a little bit of a grind, but it’s been a lot of fun too,” Dempster said. “We won a couple of games here and that was exciting. We won a series after a tough series in St. Louis and came right back and played well.”
The Cubs had been poised to add a much-needed pitcher for the future in the deal with the Braves, but now that pitcher might come in the compensation round of next summer’s draft. Indications are that the Cubs might keep Dempster for the remainder of the season, make him a free-agent offer this winter and if he doesn’t sign they will be compensated in the form of an extra draft pick.
A draft pick, though, isn’t a major league ready pitcher like Randall Delgado, the pitcher the Cubs were supposed to receive in the Dempster deal that was agreed to Monday and was left waiting for Dempster’s approval.
Also left to be determined is how Cubs fans react to Dempster if and when he makes his next home start. His next outing will likely take place Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, just hours after the deadline has passed.
For now, though, Dempster will remain in limbo until the deadline actually passes.
“I had a job to do today and that’s really important to me,” Dempster said. “I had to try and separate the two things, make sure I’m getting my rest and we had a day game today. I wanted to make sure my focus was on going out there pitching and doing my job. Now I will have tonight, obviously, and the off day tomorrow to try and look at a couple of different things and see what the possibilities are and go from there to make the best possible decision for me.”
One rumor had Maholm possibly returning to his old stomping ground of Pittsburgh in a deal, but the Pirates effectively nixed that idea when they traded for left-hander Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday.
Despite just coming to the Cubs this season, it’s not as if heading to a new team so soon would be easy for Maholm.
“It would be a huge transition,” Maholm said Wednesday on the “Waddle and Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “I have a wife and a son, and both of them are enjoying Chicago just like me, and that's the reason we decided to sign in the offseason.”
With team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer working the phones as they try to rebuild the roster, Maholm can still be moved. Unlike Dempster he does not have trade veto rights.
“We play for the postseason and want to do that, but we'll see how the next six, seven days go, or however long we've got,” Maholm said. “I'm not one of those guys who's going to go in to Jed or Theo and ask them or go to (manager Dale Sveum) and ask if he's heard anything. My job is to be prepared every fifth day, and that's what I'm going to do, expect to make my start on Sunday and see where we go from there.”
It isn’t like Maholm is itching to get out of town. He appreciates what the Cubs have done for him.
“That's one of the reasons I signed and gave them a (contract) option,” he said. “I finished last year hurt and everyone thought I was still hurt. They showed they believed in me and signed me, and I'm hoping to stick around for a good while. The fans are awesome.”
Cubs pitcher Paul Maholm joined "Waddle & Silvy" to discuss trade rumors, Ryan Dempster and more.
Click here for more audio from ESPN Chicago.
Listen Live link: Listen
“Yeah, but you still don’t just hold people out when nothing has happened,” Sveum said. “It’s not something you do. If it was a position player would you hold him out a week because his name was mentioned and things were in the works? You just don’t do those things. You don’t start taking people out of lineups and missing starts because of rumors or because their name is mentioned.”
Late Tuesday night reports started to surface that the Cubs and Dodgers might actually be able to revisit a Dempster trade, but by Wednesday afternoon the latest news from ESPN’s Buster Olney was that the Cubs are now considering keeping Dempster the remainder of the season and making an offer that qualifies for a compensation draft pick if he doesn’t re-sign.
How this all plays out with Cubs fans remains to be seen. A vocal segment of the fan base had gotten used to the idea that talented young Braves pitcher Randall Delgado would now be pitching on the North Side.
Knowing that Dempster nixed those chances might not sit well with many. Just how upset Cubs fans are will be most evident the next time Dempster pitches in Wrigley Field, if he does indeed pitch for the team again. With Garza possibly pitching for the Cubs on Monday, Dempster could be pitching on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field.
Tuesday’s game just so happens to start a mere four hours after the 3 p.m. CST non-waiver trade deadline.
Paul Maholm continued his impressive run in some familiar territory as he handcuffed his former team, the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Maholm was right at home in allowing just one run on four hits over eight innings and is now on something of a historic run for the Cubs.
“I wasn’t around to see that old stretch,” Maholm joked. “I’m going to continue to be consistent and get deep into games, hope the defense works out, we put runs on the board and see how long I keep pitching well.”
The ability to put any pitch wherever he wants at any point in the count has been doing Maholm wonders as his starts keep building on one another.
“He’s been coming out with all four pitches every night,” manager Dale Sveum said. “He’s staying with the game plan, he’s not shaking off, he’s not doing anything that he shouldn’t be doing. He’s making all the pitches and getting ground-ball double plays and strikeouts. He’s really prepared and doing obviously a great job. It’s something you don’t see too often after five or six starts.”
The veteran of nine seasons in a Chicago Cubs uniform was expected to leave the team this month, land a pitching prospect to help the team in the future and then return to the Cubs as a free agent this offseason.
It could have been as easy as 1-2-3.
As it turns out, real life sometimes gets in the way. Dempster has -- for now -- effectively blocked a trade to the Atlanta Braves, and because of an information leak, Cubs fans know they are being deprived of highly-regarded pitcher Randall Delgado as a return piece.
Suddenly, the previously beloved Dempster is being lambasted on social media by a vocal contingent of the Cubs’ fan base. And the guy who has given his heart and soul to the Cubs now has his loyalty in question.