By Bruce Levine-
(CBS) — Thursday’s trade deadline could be an active one for the Cubs or a passive journey toward the next wave of young organization players. The Cubs made their big deal three weeks ago, dealing pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland in a deal that centered around shortstop phenom Addison Russell.
Now, is there another big deal to be made by the front office at Clark and Addison?
“We have had a lot conversations,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “I think we will be active. It would not surprise me if we made no moves. It is still early and (the day before the deadline) is usually moving day. I expect things to be more serious as we move into (Wednesday) evening, is when teams start to hone in on deals they want to make.”
The Cubs had two potential players to be dealt in the lineup on Tuesday night in a 4-3 win against the Rockies in 16 innings. Infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio and outfielder Justin Ruggiano can both be free agents after the season, and they are more than likely to be elsewhere within the next week or 10 days. If players are not traded by Thursday by 3 p.m. CST, they can be put on waivers and be claimed and traded in a more complicated procedure.
Left-hander James Russell has heard the trade rumors around him for the third straight season. The easy-going Texan has become immune to the chatter.
“You still pay attention to it,” Russell said. “You watch what teams are most active and keep your eyes open.”
Russell has the longest service time with the team, coming to the big leagues in 2010.
“There is nothing I can control about it,” he said. “This is a business, and I have seen a lot of good friends get traded, including Samardzija and Hammel. I am sure it would hurt a little (because) if I am traded, this has been the only organization I have ever known. In the same sense, it would be a different chapter and a fun start to get my feet wet and play some playoff baseball.”
Bonifacio had a great night on Tuesday that included a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Scouts from Seattle and San Francisco are looking for right-handed hitting as the hours dwindle down. Both teams were in attendance at Wrigley Tuesday.
“There is nothing I can do but play my game,” Bonifacio said. “I like it here, but if I get traded it won’t be the first time. We will see what happens. I am OK either way.”
The Cubs have said previously they will try not to move players under contract control. However, Hoyer left the door open on that Tuesday.
“We could, we certainly could (trade controlled contracts),” Hoyer said. “We have been pretty aware of moving those guys in preparation of putting the team together next year. Free agent markets are pretty thin right now. Unless you have a prospect that can do the same job, you can be back in the market this fall, looking for a player with the same skill set.”
Right-hander Carlos Villanueva is also on the short list of teams looking for a versatile swing man out of the bullpen.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.