Cubs improve pitching, explore bigger trades
Happy to have Haren and Hunter, Epstein also focused on two undisclosed players who weren't dealt at Deadline
MILWAUKEE -- The Cubs acquired two pitchers at the Trade Deadline on Friday, and president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they were close on adding some other players but were unable to complete those deals. What makes that tolerable, Epstein said, is that those targeted players weren't traded at all.
On Friday, the Cubs filled the fifth spot in the rotation by acquiring Dan Haren from the Marlins for two Minor Leaguers, and then they made a deal with the Orioles for hard-throwing reliever Tommy Hunter.
"We explored some bigger deals that would've had a longer lasting impact on the organization, and none of those came to pass," Epstein said. "Those players ended up not being moved as it turned out. Focusing on the 2015 club, which is the most important thing for us to address now, we feel we got two quality pitchers and quality individuals who we feel can provide us the depth we need to compete the rest of the season until we get to October."
Haren is expected to make his Cubs debut Wednesday against the Pirates at PNC Park.
"He's a master at knowing how to pitch," Epstein said of the right-hander, who was 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts.
Hunter, who has a 3.63 ERA in 39 relief appearances, will join the bullpen mix and give manager Joe Maddon another late-inning option.
"We like taking pitchers out of the American League and putting them in the National League," Epstein said. "He's a power pitcher with great control. That's a good combination."
Epstein said teams inquired about the Cubs' top prospects.
"We certainly were very aggressive, in my mind, in packaging our prospects, especially for controllable, impact Major League talent, including deals with both volume and impact," he said. "[It was] volume in terms of the big number of impactful prospects going in the other direction.
"The two main players who we ended up focusing on ended up not getting moved -- it's OK," he said. "We'll definitely live to fight another day. We're clearly in the phase where what's happened at the Major League level is the most important thing, as it should be."
The Cubs did add pitching depth, which was a goal. However, the young Cubs are scuffling offensively. Epstein said it's part of their development.
"We have to give these guys a chance to play, a chance to learn, a chance to work their way out of slumps and a chance to win for you," he said. "These are our guys. We believe in them."
No team has ever made it to the postseason with three rookies who played at least 100 games. The Cubs, in third place in the NL Wild Card race, are trying to be the first, and they are relying on rookies Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Addison Russell.
"We weren't going to add just any bat or replace somebody because they're slumping," Epstein said. "These are our guys, and we believe in them. This is the core of the team moving forward. We'll give everyone a chance to develop and win at the same time."
One player whose name was mentioned in trade rumors was shortstop Starlin Castro, who was batting .237 before driving in a pair of runs in his first two at-bats Friday night against the Brewers.
"He's a good player who has not had a good season," Epstein said. "The best thing we can do is support him and try to put him in a position to turn the season around as quickly as possible. These things usually even out over the course of the season, or at least turn around. He's got a chance to make a real positive impact over the last couple months."