CHICAGO – Three days stand between the Cubs and their second-half series opener in Colorado.
By then, the Cubs could be a much different team. The four-day All-Star break has afforded president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer the opportunity to ramp up trade decisions involving the Cubs’ most valuable assets. Epstein said Friday he did not plan on traveling to New York for Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Citi Field, preferring to talk with other teams’ executives via phone rather than trying to track them down in person.
For players, the All-Star break represents a reprieve from the daily grind and a chance to spend time with family. However, for some Cubs, it will entail avoiding trade rumors and the possibility their tenure on the North Side is over.
“It’s easy for me always because it’s not something I get wrapped up in,” closer Kevin Gregg said. “There’s going to be rumors without a doubt. There’s no reason for me to get involved in any of that stuff. If something does happen, I’ll get notified at the end.”
Despite allowing four runs in the ninth inning of a tied game against the Cardinals on Sunday, Gregg remains one of the most likely Cubs to get moved before the July 31 trade deadline. As if Gregg, 35, knew his days with the Cubs are numbered, he spent time with his son, Max, in the clubhouse and on the field over the weekend.
“I’ve played long enough that I don’t really think about it because Theo and the boys, they do what they have to do,” Gregg said of getting traded. “They’re running an organization, not just for today but for the future and that’s part of the game. You can’t worry about it on a daily basis.”
The most coveted Cubs pitcher available is right-hander Matt Garza, who said Sunday night, “I haven’t heard anything like that” regarding a report that the organization has informed him he will be traded.
“Yeah, you do get caught up in it, but I’ve been through it so much that I’m just oblivious until something happens,” Garza said. “It’s stressful, but at the same time I have a great outlet, I get to pitch every five days. I just keep going and looking forward to that next five days.”
Fellow starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija would be one of Garza’s teammates that would take it the hardest if Garza gets traded. Samardzija was outspoken when the Cubs dealt starting pitcher Scott Feldman to Baltimore two weeks ago, explaining the move didn’t make them a better team.
“He’s a great dude to have and the more guys you have like that out of your 25 [man roster] the better chance you have to have a successful season,” Samardzija said of Garza.
Manager Dale Sveum said he plans to stay away from thinking about baseball during the break, wanting to avoid taking work home with him. But going forward the rest of this season, his job won’t get any easier. Like last season, Sveum must find a way to replace key players and try to avoid another 100-loss season.
While the Cubs have four more wins than this point last year, potentially losing Garza and Gregg as well as outfielder Nate Schierholtz and reliever James Russell in trades will make these four days off the least stressful Sveum will have for a long time.
• Meghan Montemurro covers the White Sox and Cubs for Shaw Media. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Sox Insider and Inside the Cubs blogs at NWHerald.com and on Twitter @Sox_Insider and @InsideTheCubs.