Stay tuned as Cubs monitor August waiver market after productive July
Just because the non-waiver trade deadline July 31 has passed doesn’t mean the Cubs are out of the business of adding to their depth this season.
It’s harder to acquire players through the waiver process in August, and possible fits might be few and far between after the Cubs traded for left-hander Jose Quintana, reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila in July.
‘‘We’ll certainly be monitoring it,’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘We’ll be active. There will be players that clear waivers. There will be some options to acquire guys if they get through, but you can’t count on it.’’
Once a player clears waivers, he is free to be traded without restrictions. Claimed players can be traded to the claiming team, allowed to go to the claiming team without a trade or pulled back off waivers. At that point, they are ineligible to be traded until after the season.
When multiple teams claim a player, the claim is awarded based on reverse order of record. That allows teams to use claims to acquire a player or block another team from acquiring him.
Reports of the Tigers putting right-hander Justin Verlander through waivers this week raised immediate intrigue about whether he might be traded this month. But short of a contending team suffering a key pitching injury, the chances still seem remote. (The Cubs, by the way, never came close to trading for Verlander in July, despite persistent rumors and talks with the Tigers about other players.)
The Cubs may be in the market for a smaller piece that might become available as the month progresses. In 2015, they made two late-August trades with the Mariners for reliever Fernando Rodney and outfielder Austin Jackson and signed three free agents who became available in August: right-hander Trevor Cahill, outfielder/pinch runner Quintin Berry and utility player Emilio Bonifacio.
They made no deals in August last season and won the World Series.
‘‘You never know,’’ president Theo Epstein said. ‘‘For the right player, we’ll get creative. But we like the 25-man [roster] the way it is right now, and we like some of the guys we have at Triple-A. We’ll monitor the situation, but we’re happy where we are.’’
Rings over pride
Veteran Cubs starters who used to bristle at 90- and 95-pitch hooks have been conspicuously compliant this season with the team’s obsessive attention to workloads after back-to-back deep postseason runs.
‘‘I think it’s shown in the past couple of years that it pays dividends if you just trust that philosophy and are able to put some of your pride aside when you would like to go another inning,’’ said right-hander Jake Arrieta, who has a 2.08 ERA in his last six starts.
In fact, the rotation has an 11-2 record and 2.97 ERA, even after Quintana’s rough start Thursday.
‘‘If it’s for the betterment of the ballclub, then we’re all on board for that,’’ Arrieta said. ‘‘I know I am, just seeing how that can really help us out in September and October.’’
Bunting after 6 RBI?
Catcher Willson Contreras, who almost singlehandedly brought the Cubs back from a 6-1 deficit, caused viral head-scratching on social media by trying to bunt in the ninth when he represented the tying run. He wound up striking out.
“I was trying just to get on base,” said Contreras, who cited the three lefties behind him who might be able to drive in the runners if he had been successful. “Even if I hit a double there, that’s only one run. I was thinking of the team.”
Manager Joe Maddon said he rather would have Contreras swing in that situation but didn’t necessarily have a problem with it.
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