By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — Multiple teams are double-teaming the Chicago Cubs with scouting coverage as the trading deadline grows closer.
Numerous scouts from Boston, the New York Yankees, Toronto and San Francisco have watched the recent outings of Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija.
The Cubs are looking for high-ceiling pitchers and catchers in return for the two veteran pitchers. The competition for starting pitching is intense between the top four clubs in the AL East. Only three games separate the top three clubs in the East. Boston still feels it’s a playoff-caliber club as well, despite trailing Toronto by eight games.
The Cubs are working the communication lines hard, hoping to make a deal or deals like they did in 2013 when they acquired five pitchers and third baseman Mike Olt in trades with Baltimore and Texas. The 2014 Cubs have Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm and Pedro Strop in their major-league bullpen and Jake Arrieta in the rotation. All were products of the trade of Scott Feldman to the Orioles and Matt Garza going to the Rangers.
Cubs president Theo Epstein admitted on Friday that real information on trades is hard to identify or dispute.
“This is the age of Twitter and the information highway known as the Internet. There is the usual chatter this time of the year,” Epstein said in reference to GM contact and activity. “There are talks, but probably not as much as you think by clicking on all the websites.”
Epstein refuses to give updates on his pitchers’ situations or the rumors about teams that are interested in his players.
“That is just the nature of media technology these days,” he said. “I don’t think any of it comes from bad intentions. We are all conditioned to accept it (rumors true or false ) at this point. This is just a part of the landscape. We try to do our best now to get around it.”
Hammel had another good outing on Friday against the Nationals, allowing one run on five hits in six-plus innings. The veteran pitcher, who is working with a one-year contract, won his seventh game while keeping his ERA under 3.00 with his effort.
The Yankees had two of their top talent scouts watching Hammel on Friday. The 31-year-old pitcher has been traded twice and a free agent once this off-season.
“I don’t listen to (rumors),” Hammel said. “You can talk about it all you want. I knew what I was getting into coming here.”
“This all comes with the territory. I understand you are going to talk about it. This is very much the same as what has happened in the past. This is really not anything I can worry about, because I have no control over it.”
Washington would be happy not to face Hammel again next week in D.C. Hammel is 7-0 lifetime against the Nationals, with a 3.12 ERA in nine appearances against them.