SAN FRANCISCO -- Since July 2, the Cubs have traded Scott Feldman, Scott Hairston, Carlos Marmol, Matt Garza and now Alfonso Soriano. Can manager Dale Sveum finally relax and breathe?
"I'm not exhaling yet," Sveum said Friday, chuckling. "I don't really see anything else happening but I think until that 11th hour is here, you don't relax. You don't dwell on it. For the most part, besides the Sori thing, everything else comes pretty quick and you don't have time to prepare."
The Cubs also were active last year at the Trade Deadline as president of baseball operations Theo Epstein began his efforts to restock the Minor League system. Trade rumors have followed Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, and the Deadline is less than one week away. Are the Cubs done dealing?
"There are some things we'd like to explore, and if we can find the right fit and bring value back to the organization, sure, we would be [interested]," Epstein said. "We've had a very active July. We set out to be proactive, especially with starting pitching. We wanted to jump the market a little and get the Feldman deal and the Garza deal done before more starting pitchers became available and flooded the market. That part of the strategy felt great.
"The Sori deal was something we were hoping to do if the timing was right and the fit was right."
The Cubs' farm system has more potential impact players than one year ago, many selected in the First-Year Player Draft as well as acquired through trades, and Epstein is still shopping.
Soriano's eight-year, $136 million contract was the largest ever given a Cubs player and signed when Jim Hendry was the general manager in November 2006. Would Epstein give a player a large contract like that? It depends on the player, he said.
"I'm of the belief that you're never one player away," Epstein said. "If you think you're one player away, you're getting desperate and asking for trouble. It's the single biggest factor in whether or not you have a chance to legitimately contend is the overall health of the organization. In time, the overall health of the organization, the overall talent of the organization will manifest iteself at the big league level with a little bit of patience."
The Cubs could someday add an impact player through free agency, he said. They're just not going to build around that.
"We'll know when the time is right, when the fit is right, when the player is right, when the value is right, when the impact of the player is profound for our ballclub," Epstein said. "Right now, our focus is on building the health of the organization and I feel great about the strides we've made."