By Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune –
MILWAUKEE — It’s too soon to tell whether the 58-day period from June 4-July 31 will be remembered as a turning point in Cubs’ history, but it figures to be one of the more interesting stretches the organization has experienced in quite a while.
With the selection of outfielder Albert Almora No. 6 overall in this week’s amateur draft, the pursuit of Cuban defector Jorge Soler, the possible call-up of top prospect Anthony Rizzo and the opportunity of adding a half-dozen or so high impact prospects in potential trades of Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza, the Cubs could have a strong nucleus to build their self-labeled foundation of sustained success.
Before the Cubs fell 8-0 to the Brewers on Wednesday night for their 17th loss in 21 games, general manager Jed Hoyer said he was satisfied with the draft and predicted the team would be very active before the July 31 trade deadline.
“We’ve already started talking to teams,” Hoyer said. “Teams work on dual tracks this time of year. But even the last couple of days, those calls will pick up. It’s such a jumbled (playoff) race right now.
“That’ll shake out a little bit over the next six to eight weeks, and as it does teams will be more active. We’ll be on the phones. … That’s what the focus is going to be now.”
Is it a seller’s market?
“We’ll see how it looks in six weeks,” he said. “Right now, there are not a lot of (sellers).”
While Garza obviously would command the most in return, but there’s no urgency to deal him as he isn’t a free agent until after 2013. Alfonso Soriano is difficult to move with 21/2 years remaining on his megadeal, which leaves Dempster as the most likely escapee from this nightmarish season.
Dempster said if the Cubs “want to trade me to better the ballclub, I have to listen to what they have to say.”
He hasn’t spoken with President Theo Epstein yet about his willingness to leave, and said he has yet to make a list of teams for which he would be willing to waive his no-trade rights.
“Any one of us is susceptible to being traded,” Dempster said. “For me, it’s a little different because I have the right to say ‘no.’ … Obviously I want to do what’s best for this organization. They’ve done nothing but right by me.”
Hoyer confirmed the Cubs will be in the bidding for Soler, whom they watched again Wednesday at a workout.
“We’ve obviously scouted him extensively, like a lot of teams have,” Hoyer said. “There are a lot of teams involved. We had a similar situation with (Yoenis) Cespedes this winter. It’ll be intriguing, but certainly we’ve done our work on him.”
While the future remains the Cubs’ focus, the present remains miserable.
Paul Maholm (4-5) lasted only four innings as Brewers ace Zack Greinke improved to 15-0 at Miller Park, shutting down the Cubs on two hits and striking out 12 over seven innings.