By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — Even with a 14-game lead in their division, Cubs executives are combing the bushes for a few key additions. That’s not a surprise, knowing president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
When it’s going this well for a team like the Cubs, it should be easier to find another player or two when the competition isn’t looking. The only problem with that thinking is during the waiver period of the season, 29 other clubs get to pass or claim a player on waivers before the player gets to the team with the best record (waivers work in reverse order of record, so a player can be claimed first by the team with the worst record).
The Cubs are looking for a left-hand bat and another bullpen arm or two. With injuries to key members of the relief corps, this proactive approach makes sense now. The reality is that Epstein and Hoyer have been looking for fits from last winter to stockpile their bullpen.
Three of the seven Cubs bullpen arms are new since mid-July: Mike Montgomery, Aroldis Chapman and Joe Smith. More additions shouldn’t shock anyone.
“You never stop looking to add good players,” Hoyer said Saturday on WSCR Radio’s “Inside the Clubhouse” baseball show.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
Because of season-long slumps by key left-handed hitters Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero, the addition of a left-handed, run-producing bat seems essential. Of course, the Cubs can win the division without adding. The thought process is that a main ingredient in postseason is to have solid left/right lineup balance. One pinch-hitter from the left side or prospective designated hitter in the World Series can make the difference in winning or losing.
With the loss of infielder Tommy La Stella, who continues to remain at home instead of accepting a minor league assignment, the team must keep looking for left-handed pop.
“We never stop trying to add to our club for now or the future,” Hoyer said. “I don’t like that you can keep adding, even in September. Those are the rules, and for us we will try to keep taking advantage of it.”
The Cubs talked to both the Reds for Jay Bruce and Athletics about Josh Reddick before they were dealt to the Mets and Dodgers, respectively.
A return by La Stella to his previous mental and physical form would be a huge help. Manager Joe Maddon said Saturday that there’s still time for La Stella to get some at-bats in the minors if he has a change of heart and returns to the team. Chicago is 12-1 since La Stella refused his minor league assignment and went home.MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.