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DALLAS – Although the Chicago Cubs have been rumored to be in the Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols sweepstakes for months, president for baseball operations Theo Epstein says he is more interested in focusing on little deals to improve the team.
The Cubs still are working on a trade that could bring third baseman Ian Stewart from the Rockies to Chicago for a possible package of Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu, according to major league sources.
”Absolutely,” Epstein said when asked if smaller deals could lead to good things. “They are only big or small when they are viewed retrospectively. I remember my first winter in Boston we signed a released player for a million bucks and it turned out to be David Ortiz. Then we signed a previously injured third baseman who couldn’t hit for power named Bill Mueller, and he won the batting title the next year. Those were all small moves that turned out to be big moves down the line. And ultimately, they helped us win.”
Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer in their first winter meetings since joining the Cubs organization, are finding the trade market a little sparse at the moment.
“It’s a little bit harder to [make moves] in this environment,” he said. “It’s a more competitive landscape now. But [smaller deals] are the types of moves that we are focused on right now.”
As previously stated the Cubs remain attached to the Pujols and Fielder rumors. And it is within Epstein’s makeup that he lays in the weeds and flies in to make a stealth move – as he did on Carl Crawford last winter.
Earlier in the day, Hoyer said on the MLB Network that the Cubs’ involvement in Fielder may have been overblown.
Epstein says the Cubs are content to grind out the smaller deals for now.
“Those are the types of moves that we are focused on,” Epstein said. “I think that fits where we are right now, and it fits the picture of our roster and resources, to try and get incrementally better and build toward the future.