Cubs add depth to farm system with three deals

Cubs add depth to farm system with three deals

CHICAGO -- It's been an whirlwind in the Cubs' clubhouse as four players were dealt in 24 hours for five Minor League prospects. It's all about the future.

But what about right now? The Cubs entered Tuesday's game with a 15-9 record in July, yet have lost two of their starting pitchers in Ryan Dempster and Paul Maholm, their top right-handed bat off the bench in Reed Johnson and the regular catcher, Geovany Soto.

"If there's any small part of this that's hard for us it's that," general manager Jed Hoyer said about all the moves. "We have played really well. Hopefully, they'll continue to do that. We'll do what we can to make the next two months as competitive as we possibly can."

Hoyer said when the Cubs were having a tough time finding a good match for Dempster, there was debate as to whether they should keep the right-hander, who will be a free agent after this season.

"But ultimately, he's a free agent, and we felt like the right thing to do was to keep adding talent to the farm system," Hoyer said. "We've said a number of times we don't have enough depth in the farm system or enough good young players. We had a chance to add two guys we liked a lot, so we took that chance. It was a debate -- keep him, not keep him. He's a free agent at the end of the year, and if he comes back, that's wonderful. As far as today, the right thing to do was to get talent for him."

The Cubs acquired right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva from the Rangers for Dempster.

Hendricks, 22, was an eighth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Dartmouth, and he was 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Class A Myrtle Beach. He had 112 strikeouts and had walked 15 over 130 2/3 innings.

"He's not a hard thrower, but not a soft tosser either," Hoyer said. "Our reports had him up to 93 [mph], and he mixes his pitches well. When you look at his performance, he's done a nice job."

Villanueva, 21, was batting .285 with 19 doubles, one triple, 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in 100 games with Myrtle Beach.

"Villanueva is a guy we've liked for a while," Hoyer said. "He has a good approach a the plate, has some power."

Hoyer wasn't sure where the two would be assigned in the Cubs' Minor League system. On Monday night, they acquired right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman from the Braves. Vizcaino, considered the top prospect in the deal, was recovering from Tommy John surgery, while Chapman was pitching at Triple-A Gwinnett this year.

The Cubs also added right-handed pitcher Jake Brigham from the Rangers for Soto. He was 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco.

Is Hoyer happy with the depth in the Cubs' organization?

"We're getting there," he said. "We have to have a lot more good Drafts and make more good trades. I think the best teams are able to replenish the bullpen internally and able to bring up starters from the Minor Leagues whenever they need to, and we're not at that point yet. Since we got here, we've worked hard to build up that depth. I don't think the job is complete."

Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. In other words, the player must be offered to the other teams in reverse order of the standings, and if he is claimed by one of the teams, he cannot be traded. The club that placed the player on waivers can either withdraw the request and keep the player, or let the player go to the claiming team, which would then have the rights to the player.