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Cubs may get more building blocks at Deadline

Hoyer could deal assets other teams have expressed interest in

Cubs may get more building blocks at Deadline

CHICAGO -- For the third straight year, the Cubs got a jump on the rest of the trade market, making their blockbuster deals early in July.

That doesn't mean general manager Jed Hoyer has turned his cell phone off.

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The Cubs could still make a move in the final days leading up to the Thursday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. There has been interest in Cubs left-handed relievers James Russell and Wesley Wright, outfielder Justin Ruggiano and infielder Luis Valbuena. Plus, the Cubs designated second baseman Darwin Barney for assignment and could deal him, as well, by Thursday.

Hoyer and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein ignited fireworks on July 4, when they dealt starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Athletics for pitcher Dan Straily, shortstop Addison Russell and outfielder Billy McKinney, plus a player to be named. All three players acquired are in the Minor Leagues and are expected to be part of the Cubs' future.

It was the third straight season the Cubs traded two members of the starting rotation by the Deadline.

Entering Monday, the Cubs were 4-15 since the trade.

"We were a team in last place before the deal and, obviously, trading 40 percent of the rotation is not going to help that," Hoyer said. "But it will give guys like Kyle Hendricks the chance to pitch."

Hendricks, the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013, was promoted from Triple-A Iowa and made his third big league start on Sunday against the Cardinals.

Besides listening to other teams' offers and looking for more young talent, Hoyer and Epstein are evaluating the current roster to see who they want to keep. With all the young players coming up, they need to find which current veterans will help mentor and provide some balance to the club.

"There's value to keeping players who have roles here, for the sake of continuity and leadership and performance on the field," Epstein said. "We're not in any rush to make trades for the sake of making trades."

Manager Rick Renteria has to keep the current players focused on that day's game.

"I'm not trying to envision us doing anything but pushing and playing the game," Renteria said on Sunday. "You're still playing for your teammates, you're still playing for the city, you're playing for each other, and you're trying to still be professional. The biggest thing we have to understand is that the season isn't going to stop depending on where you're at in the standings. You still have to play the game. Everybody deserves a really good effort.

Hoyer feels the major moves in the rebuilding process are likely done. Now, it's time for the young players to develop.

"We're starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel," Hoyer said. "[Arismendy Alcantara] coming up is helpful. The way [Anthony] Rizzo and [Starlin] Castro are playing is great. I think in the not too distant future, [the prospects] will be out there."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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