Cubs willing to limit scope of potential trades to keep roster intact

SHARE Cubs willing to limit scope of potential trades to keep roster intact

Widely coveted A’s pitcher Sonny Gray was scratched from Sunday’s start because of heated trade talks, with the Yankees the apparent front-runners to land him as of Saturday night.

MILWAUKEE — The Cubs continue to be linked to several high-cost pitchers, including starters, as Monday’s trade deadline approaches. But after trading their top two prospects to acquire starter Jose Quintana this month, it seems unlikely they’ll be able to pull off another sizable move without trading from their big-league roster.

Team officials have not ruled it out but are reluctant to move anyone off the roster, even after prolonged struggles by some of their young hitters.

“I’d be surprised, based on my conversations,” manager Joe Maddon said Saturday of that possibility. “I know we like our guys. We like our team. I don’t talk to them on a daily basis about that; they come to me when they’ve got something cooking.”

Despite checking the price tags on Oakland’s Sonny Gray, Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Texas’ Yu Darvish, a team source said the club did not expect to add another starter by the deadline.

The Quintana deal — which looks like the biggest acquisition of the trading period — also lessens the urgency for the Cubs to acquire the second starter they hope to add to ease the anticipated free-agency losses of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey.

They’re also finding it difficult to compete for the higher-profile relievers on the market without a marquee prospect to offer after trading Gleyber Torres last summer, after dealing Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for Quintana and after calling up Ian Happ to the majors this year.

The expectation is the Cubs will add a veteran catcher, with Miami’s A.J. Ellis in their sights, and might yet swing a deal for a reliever in the final hours before the 3 p.m. deadline.

But it would be a surprise if they ultimately changed course and decided to trade from the roster.

“I like this group here a lot,” Maddon said. “I think we have all the ingredients that we need right here. And there’s some dudes in Triple-A that can help, too.

“So whatever the boys decide, I’m fine with it. But I don’t necessarily see a subtraction among the position-player group, or with anybody that’s here, really. I’d be surprised if the addition came through subtraction here.”

Rotation flip-flop

The Cubs are using the scheduled day off Monday to flip-flop Jon Lester and Arrieta in the rotation, with Lester moved up to Tuesday and Arrieta pushed back to Wednesday.

The move accommodates Lester, who leaves the team after the game Tuesday night against the Diamondbacks to attend his uncle’s funeral.

This and that

When Ryan Braun drove home Eric Thames in the first inning Saturday, it was the first time in 15 games since the All-Star break that the Cubs have allowed a run in the first.

They allowed 80 in 88 games before the break.

◆ Kyle Schwarber, who was treated for back soreness in recent days (“nothing big,” he said), was in the lineup.

◆ The loss to the Brewers on Friday snapped a nine-game road winning streak for the Cubs — which meant their only road losses this month were on July 1 and July  28.

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