CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs front office is in the midst of developing a second half plan after completing their draft signings. The first piece of business will be to sign free agent players from Latin America.
Major league clubs have a deadline each year of July 2 to sign the prospects they have scouted outside of the United States. After that, the business at hand will be all about moving some pieces off the 25-man roster for more prospects to build the organization around.
The July 31 non-waiver trading deadline presents some challenges for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and his front office.
"We are trying to access where we are and the needs of the other 29 teams," Epstein said. "This is kind of a long process to put together. You don't just wake up on July 31 and decide you are going to make a trade one way or the other."
Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer will have to find the best package first and foremost that they can arrange for starter Matt Garza. Although talk has been of signing Garza to an extension, the best-case scenario for both sides appears to be a trade.
The 29-year-old pitcher was being showcased for the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays last July when he injured his elbow. Since coming to the Cubs in an eight-player deal with the Tampa Bay Rays in January of 2011, he is a disappointing 17-18 with a decent 3.60 ERA.
"We are starting those internal discussions where what good fits might be," Epstein said. "We hope we get a little hot and change our current position. We have to be prepared for anything."
Young pitching is still the commodity that the Cubs are looking to obtain in any trades they make this summer.
Although most major league clubs are reluctant to move youthful power arms, Epstein remains hopeful he can steal a jewel or two away from a contending team.
"Just a couple of years ago there were a lot of young pitchers traded," he said. "Gio Gonzalez was traded and (Trevor) Cahill. I think teams will still trade their young pitching. That was our focus last year; we tried to get a pitcher in every deal. If we end up going that route this year, pitching will be a focus."