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Hoyer believes July deals strengthened Cubs' future

CHICAGO -- The Cubs, who got a head start on most teams by making several moves early in the month, had plenty of calls regarding their roster leading up to the non-waiver Trade Deadline, but weren't close to making a deal, general manager Jed Hoyer said Wednesday.

"The good thing is we feel we were incredibly productive this month," Hoyer said. "We made a lot of deals and feel we got better as an organization this month."

There were inquiries about outfielders Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, pitchers Kevin Gregg, James Russell and Carlos Villanueva, and catcher Dioner Navarro.

"We're happy with the players we kept, if you want to look at it that way," Hoyer said. "We thought we had a high, but not unreasonably high price on some of the guys. A lot of the guys who were being asked about, we control going forward. We feel it makes our winter potentially easier. We didn't have the value there to make any deals today. It's fine. I think our July was really productive and we're happy about it, and now we can move forward."

The Cubs kicked off the trading season July 2 when they sent Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop; and dealt Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers for Matt Guerrier on July 2. Six days later, Scott Hairston was traded to the Nationals for Minor League pitcher Ivan Pineyro.

On July 22, the Cubs made their biggest splash, sending Matt Garza to the Rangers for four Minor League players, including C.J. Edwards and Mike Olt. Last Friday, veteran Alfonso Soriano was dealt to the Yankees for Class A pitcher Corey Black.

It's all part of the rebuilding process that Hoyer and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein have pushed since taking over the Cubs prior to the 2012 season.

Even though the deadline has passed, trades can still be made. Deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player. If nobody claims the player, he can then be traded.

"We all know there's the waivers wires and things can obviously still happen," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said.

Hoyer said they've had preliminary discussions about which players they'd want to put on waivers.

"August deals are always a possibility," he said. "If a guy doesn't clear and is claimed, you're limited to one team so that makes the conversations difficult. You lose some leverage. If a guy does happen to clear, it's no different than it was today."

Hoyer said he sensed teams that had specific needs were able to address them by making deals before Wednesday's deadline.

"It was strategic to move early, and we're glad we did it," he said.

Despite no moves on Wednesday, the Cubs roster has definitely been overhauled since Opening Day. Ten players currently on the 25-man roster were not with the Cubs on Opening Day. The Cubs entered Wednesday's game 10 games under .500. The Cubs have the starting pitching, but the offense hasn't been good enough to contend, Hoyer said. With two months remaining, what does he want to see?

"I expect us to be competitive," Hoyer said. "I certainly hope, offensively, that our approach gets better in the next couple months. That's something we have to focus on. We still struggle getting on base, and we're still struggling with runners in scoring position. I'd really like to see that get better going into next year.

"We'll have a lot of the same faces on the team next year, and it'd be nice over the next 60 days or whatever we have left to show we can do some of those things better," he said. "If we're sitting here over the winter, and those things never get better, it'll be something we'll have to address."

They've already seen positive results from some of the moves made. Strop and Guerrier have helped the bullpen, and Arrieta made a good impression in his first start Tuesday in the second game of a doubleheader, posting a quality start.

"The current team doesn't get stronger when you trade Feldman and Garza," Hoyer said, "but we're a better organization for having done it and we have better depth to handle it this year than we had in the past."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.
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