MILWAUKEE — With the trade deadline Wednesday fast approaching, the Cubs watched as Blue Jays infielder Eric Sogard — one of their targets — was traded Sunday to the Rays as industrywide activity began to increase.
Whether the Cubs will be able add much in the way of impact performers in the next couple of days is doubtful at best, with team president Theo Epstein saying Friday that the big in-season acquisition of $43 million free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel used up ‘‘a lot of, if not basically all of, our financial flexibility.’’
Case in point: The Cubs spent only $1 to acquire left-hander Derek Holland soon after he was designated for assignment Friday by the Giants and are paying him just more than the prorated minimum salary.
The fact that the Cubs were outbid for low-cost, rent-a-player Sogard (reportedly acquired for two players to be named) also suggests a severely limited supply of attractive player capital to offer.
Baseball America ranks the Cubs’ farm system 29th among the 30 organizations in the majors.
Still, Epstein and his staff remain busy.
‘‘I know that we’re working feverishly and [are] really engaged,’’ manager Joe Maddon said. ‘‘Our M.O. has been that things normally do occur. Let’s just play it all the way out.’’
The Cubs need bullpen help and bench help, even after adding Holland, Kimbrel and catcher Martin Maldonado in recent weeks.
‘‘We’ve had some really good conversations,’’ Maddon said of potential trade-target fits. ‘‘I like their ideas. We’ll see how it plays out.’’
Rookie right-hander Rowan Wick has looked impressive enough in the week since his latest recall from Class AAA Iowa that he might get a chance in a higher-leverage situation for the struggling bullpen in the coming days.
‘‘I won’t be nearly as reticent now to put him out there [in hot spots], just based on what he did [Saturday] night,’’ Maddon said, referring to Wick getting the final out of the eighth inning and pitching through a trouble spot in the ninth.
‘‘Guys like that, you don’t know. You’re just trying to break them in and see how they react. One of the big indicators was picking up that [infield tapper] and throwing it to third base calmly [for an unexpected out on the lead runner in the ninth]. That’s something that a lot of young guys don’t do. That speaks a lot to being able to control his emotions.’’
What Maddon isn’t ready to do, he said, is use Kimbrel for more than a three-out save right now.
‘‘Middle of September might be the right time to pull it out,’’ he said. ‘‘By then, he should be in tip-top pitching shape.’’
Hamels on tap?
Veteran left-hander Cole Hamels (strained left oblique) threw 59 pitches in a three-inning rehab start for Iowa and, barring a setback, is expected to be activated from the injured list to start against the Brewers next weekend at Wrigley Field.
In his second rehab start, Hamels gave up three runs and three hits, including two home runs, struck out four and walked three.
He was one of the hottest pitchers in the league (1.22 ERA in June) when the injury forced him from a start June 28 after one inning.