The Cubs kicked off the trading season on Tuesday, dealing pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for right-handed pitchers Jake Arrietta and Pedro Strop plus two international signing bonus slots. The Cubs also have acquired the Astros’ No. 2 and 3 international signing bonus slots for Minor League infielder Ronald Torreyes.
Feldman (7-6, 3.46 ERA), who has been one of the Cubs most consistent starters, was scheduled to start Tuesday against the Athletics, but instead, lefty Chris Rusin will get the assignment.
Feldman most likely won’t be the only starter to be dealt before the July 31 Trade Deadline. There also has been interest in right-hander Matt Garza, scheduled to start Wednesday.
Clevenger made the Cubs’ Opening Day roster but has struggled with a strained left oblique, and was with Triple-A Iowa. A Baltimore native, the catcher was thrilled at the news, according to his agent, Joshua Kusnick, who tweeted: “Clevenger is an oriole done deal home coming!”
The Cubs will get $388,100 from the Orioles in international slot money, which may help them sign top prospect Eloy Jimenez.
Arrieta will be assigned to Iowa while Strop was expected to report to the Cubs later this week. Arrieta, 27, was 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA in 69 Major League appearances, all but six as a starting pitcher, in all or part of the last four seasons with the Orioles. He was a member of Baltimore’s 2013 Opening Day roster and has had three stints with the big league club this season, going 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts.
Strop, 28, last season served as one of Baltimore’s primary set-up men, going 5-2 with three saves, 24 holds and a 2.44 ERA in 70 relief appearances, all single-season career bests. A native of the Dominican Republic, Strop made his major league debut with the Rangers in 2009 and split three seasons between the Majors and Minors before being traded to Baltimore near the end of the 2011 campaign.
— Carrie Muskat
* Since his one-day “breather,” Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is 4-for-10, which is encouraging. Has manager Dale Sveum seen changes since Tuesday’s day off, Castro’s first of the year?
“Maybe a little attitude change,” Sveum said Friday. “I think the mechanics of his swing are probably the same. He’s mixed in some hits which are nice. That’s usually what gets you going sometimes.
“He’s still struggling a little bit with the fastball,” Sveum said of Castro, who was batting .234 overall. “The mechanics are the same. Hopefully, he keeps gradually understanding what he has to do.”
* Alfonso Soriano was the designated hitter for Friday’s Interleague game, and will likely handle that role in the Cubs’ six-game West Coast swing against the Mariners and Athletics. That means Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic will be getting the action in the outfield for the Cubs. The Cubs will have to figure out how to get everyone at-bats when David DeJesus returns from a sprained right shoulder. DeJesus was in Chicago, continuing his rehab.
“A couple of them might be part of our future, left-hand hitters who are better athletes, two-way players,” manager Dale Sveum said of Sweeney and Bogusevic. “We’ll work it out to figure out the playing time.”
Sveum will talk to Soriano about playing time if there’s a significant change for the 37-year-old outfielder.
“You’re not going to just do something like that to a guy who’s had that kind of career,” Sveum said. “I’ll have to figure out how to get these guys their at-bats with matchups, or whoever’s the hottest. A lot of times those things work themselves out.”
* Dioner Navarro has caught Matt Garza’s last three starts, and the right-hander has given up two earned runs in those games, but Navarro isn’t the pitcher’s personal catcher.
“It’s just how it all works out sometimes,” Sveum said Friday. “[Welington Castillo] has caught them all and everybody has had really good games. If you have that kind of fastball command — [on Thursday], Garza had his slider and his command. When you have that kind of outing, it doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the plate.”
Castillo is the Cubs’ regular catcher, and has started 57 games compared to Navarro’s 21.
* Scott Baker, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery one year ago, will throw his second simulated game on Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. His first outing was 20 pitches, and went well.
“Everything went good and the velocity was up there,” Sveum said of Baker. “We hope he keeps going in the right direction.”
The right-hander could be pitching for the Cubs by late August.
“He’s basically starting his Spring Training right now,” Sveum said. “The first day pitchers throw live, it’s basically like that [for Baker].”
* Steve Clevenger, sidelined since April 14 with a left oblique strain, was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Iowa. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Zach Putnam (bone spur) was transferred to the 60-day DL.
— Carrie Muskat
Third baseman Ian Stewart was reinstated from the suspended list, and rejoined the Cubs’ Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. The Minor League team also placed outfielder Brett Jackson on the disabled list with a right calf strain, and outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha was promoted from Double-A Tennessee.
On Friday, the Cubs traded infielder Brent Lillibridge to the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash considerations, and on Saturday, left-handed reliever Hisanori Takahashi was dealt to the Rockies for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Both began the season with the Major League team.
Stewart was suspended 10 games for violating the loyalty clause in his contract after he made disparaging comments about the Cubs and manager Dale Sveum on Twitter. He last played June 11 at Oklahoma City, and was batting .168 (19-for-113) with six doubles, five home runs, and 20 RBIs in 40 games before he was suspended.
Jackson was batting .223 with seven doubles, three homers, and 23 RBIs in 61 games. He had an earlier stint on the DL with turf toe.
Ha joins Iowa after batting .284 with one homer, 14 RBIs, and eight stolen bases in 28 games with the Smokies.
The Cubs also announced that catcher Steve Clevenger, whose Minor League rehab assignment was to end Saturday, was experiencing some tightness in his oblique area. Clevenger will rest, and then be re-evaluated by the Cubs’ medical staff. In 15 games, he batted .327 with five doubles, three home runs, and 11 RBIs.
— Carrie Muskat
* One year ago, Starlin Castro was batting .302, and headed to his second All-Star Game. The Cubs shortstop entered Thursday’s game batting .235 for the season.
“By his numbers alone, he’s regressed, there’s no question about it,” Dale Sveum said Thursday. “You’re getting way, way down as far as all the other shortstops in baseball as far as the offensive part. He’s under .600 OPS. That would go without saying that he’s regressed.”
Castro has played every game, and Sveum said he hasn’t given the shortstop a breather yet because he hasn’t found a good day. Castro has done well defensively. If he did sit, Cody Ransom would sub at shortstop.
Part of the problem has been Castro’s mechanics at the plate.
“He knows the formula,” Sveum said. “The rest is up to him. He knows the issues and the mechanical things that are different than when he first got up to the big leagues. It’s up to him to get all of that ironed out.”
* Third baseman Ian Stewart will rejoin Triple-A Iowa this weekend. Stewart’s 10-day suspension ends Saturday, and he will join the Cubs’ Minor League team when it begins a four-game series at Memphis. Stewart, 28, was suspended by the Cubs after venting his frustrations about his situation and Cubs manager Dale Sveum on Twitter on June 10.
* The Cubs have eight relievers, and could make a roster move this weekend to add a position player. They’ve been carrying an extra pitcher since outfielder David DeJesus went on the disabled list last Saturday. One option would be to activated catcher/infielder Steve Clevenger, who was rehabbing at Triple-A Iowa and was on the 60-day disabled list. Clevenger’s rehab time ends Saturday.
— Carrie Muskat
Brooks Raley gave up five runs over six innings in Iowa’s 5-4 loss to Nashville in the first game of a doubleheader. Logan Watkins had three hits, including two triples, and Donnie Murphy had two RBIs.
In the second game, Barret Loux gave up one hit over five scoreless innings in Iowa’s 1-0 win. Watkins added two more hits, and was batting .251 for the season. Steve Clevenger was 1-for-2 in the 13th game of his rehab assignment, and batting .370. Clevenger completes his 20-day rehab assignment on Saturday. At that time, he could be optioned to Triple-A Iowa or rejoin the big league team.
Alberto Cabrera gave up one run over six innings in Tennessee’s 7-2 win over Chattanooga. Christian Villanueva and Justin Bour both homered. Cabrera helped himself, hitting a double and driving in two runs.
P.J. Francescon gave up three runs over six innings in Daytona’s 4-3 win over Clearwater. Ben Carhart hit his third home run, and Pin-Chieh Chen had two hits in his first start with Daytona. Francescon is 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA in his last three starts.
Kane County had Wednesday off, and returns to action against Quad Cities Thursday.
James Pugliese gave up one run on three hits over five innings in Boise’s 5-1 win over Salem-Keiser. Shawon Dunston Jr. extended his hitting streak to five games, and Jose Dore drove in two runs. Pugliese has given up one run over 10 innings.
Got a question? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and maybe it will make the next Inbox on Monday on Cubs.com. Please include your full name and hometown.
Q: I’m a stats kind of guy. I noticed that Welington Castillo is a much better hitter in the daytime (.305) than at night (.219). Yes, it’s a small sample but most of Dioner Navarro’s starts come in the daytime. I would assume that Sveum has a valid reason for this but perhaps Navarro’s starts should come more often at night? Just an observation. — Travis C., Cedar Rapids, IA
A: My first reaction was that Castillo had played more day games, so the numbers may be lopsided but that’s not the case. Through Tuesday, he’s played 27 games in the day time, 26 at night. The splits aren’t too far off — he’s 29-for-95 during the day, 21-for-96 at night. I’ll ask him tonight before the game, and update later.
Q: Why doesn’t Cody Ransom get more playing time? He’s solid and can produce some big hits, I feel. — Jacob B.
A: Since you wrote, Ransom has gotten more playing time. Sveum has used him in a platoon at third with Luis Valbuena, inserting Ransom against left-handed pitchers. Ransom was batting .293 vs. lefties compared to .167 against right-handers. On Tuesday against the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, Ransom did connect for his first home run off a right-hander, and was batting .304 (7-for-23) this month after a .200 June. One of the reasons Ransom bats high in the order is to give him more at-bats.
Q: I was pleased with the Cubs Draft this year. How soon will we see Kris Bryant? Any chance he could be called up in September even just to give fans a look at him? Thanks. — John L., Portland, Ore.
A: If you want to watch Bryant play, you’ll have to go to one of the Cubs’ Minor League teams, possibly Kane County. He won’t be called up in September. First, the Cubs have to sign the third baseman, who is represented by super agent Scott Boras. The Cubs have a signing bonus pool of $10,556,500, and an assigned value of $6,708,400 for Bryant. Talks are ongoing.
Q: With Steve Clevenger coming back from injury and seeming to get a hit in every rehab game, I would assume he will be brought back to the Majors once he’s ready. When this happens, who do you think will be sent down with most of the backups playing well? Would the Cubs consider sending a bullpen guy down for an extra bat? I’m afraid you’ll say Julio Borbon but I don’t want to see that late inning speed sent down. — Michael F., Raleigh, NC
A: Clevenger does give the Cubs some versatility. With three catchers available, Sveum could use Dioner Navarro or Clevenger as a pinch-hitter, and not worry about losing a backup catcher if something happened to Welington Castillo. Right now, Clevenger is getting at-bats at Triple-A Iowa and playing some infield there. Sveum was asked Tuesday about the left-handed hitter, and there’s no date set for his return. Part of the problem is that they have plenty of left-handed bats right now.
Q: With the upcoming renovation of Wrigley Field, are they going to address how small the seats are? People were a lot smaller back in the early 1900s and these days, you feel like you’re jammed in there like a sardine on both sides with no leg room. — Jeff, Calgary
A: The renovation plan includes installation of new, wider seats at Wrigley Field. It should be a more comfortable way to watch the game.
Steve Clevenger went 3-for-3 with two RBIs to help Iowa beat Omaha, 9-5, in the completion of Friday’s suspended game. Brooks Raley started but did not get a decision, giving up five runs over five innings. Brad Nelson drove in two runs.
Clevenger went 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBIs in the regular game Saturday, helping Iowa beat Omaha, 8-7. Clevenger now is batting .417, and has hit safely in nine of his 10 games. Donnie Murphy also hit a two-out grand slam in the sixth. Junior Lake had two hits and two stolen bases. Barret Loux picked up the win, throwing three innings in relief.
Kyle Hendricks gave up one run on eight hits over seven innings in Tennessee’s 5-2 win over Mississippi. Jonathan Mota hit his fifth home run and drove in two runs. Arismendy Alcantara had two hits, both doubles, and two RBIs.
The Florida State League South All-Star team defeated the North, 8-1. Javier Baez was 2-for-4 with two doubles for the North team. John Andreoli had an RBIs. Daytona returns to action Monday against Clearwater.
Bijan Rademacher had three hits, including his second home run, in Kane County’s 11-5 loss to Wisconsin. Albert Almora had two hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s batting .411 in the streak.
Paul Blackburn threw five shutout innings but Henry Charles hit a pinch-hit walkoff homer in the ninth to lead Eugene to a 1-0 win over Boise. Blackburn struck out eight, retiring the last 13 batters he faced. Shawn Dunston, Kevin Encarnacion and Jose Dore each had a hit.
Iowa’s game vs. Omaha was suspended because of rain. The teams will resume action Saturday, tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the sixth. Steve Clevenger was 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs before the rain.
Jonathan Mota had three hits and one RBIs in Tennessee’s 4-3 loss to Mississippi. Austin Kirk gave up three runs over five innings. Ronald Torreyes had three hits, including a double, and one RBIs and a stolen base.
Daytona is off this weekend for the All-Star break, and will return to action Monday at Clearwater.
Albert Almora extended his hitting streak to 12 games but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 5-1, to Wisconsin. Wilson Contreras had two hits. Shawn Camp threw two scoreless innings in his second rehab outing, striking out three of the eight batters he faced.
James Pugliese threw five shutout innings as Boise opened the season with a 7-0 victory over Eugene. Shawon Dunston Jr. went 4-for-6 with a double, Jacob Rogers hit his first home run and Daniel Lockhart had two hits and one RBIs.
Brad Nelson hit two home runs and Brett Jackson added his fifth of the season to back Brooks Raley and lift Iowa to a 10-7 victory over Round Rock on Sunday. It was Nelson’s second multi-homer game. He finished with three RBIs. Jackson had two hits, including his homer. Junior Lake was 3-for-5 and Logan Watkins and Steve Clevenger each had two hits.
Rubi Silva and Jonathan Mota each homered in Tennessee’s 5-3, 11-inning win over Mobile. Ty Wright was 2-for-2 with one RBIs. Mota finished with three hits.
Kyle Burke gave up one earned run over five innings in Daytona’s 8-2 win over Brevard County in the first game of a doubleheader. Daytona stole six bases in the game. Dustin Geiger hit his seven home run and finished with three RBIs. Daytona completed the sweep with a 3-2 win in the nightcap. John Andreoli had two hits, scored two runs and stole a base.
Marco Hernandez and Dan Vogelbach each homered but it wasn’t enough as Kane County lost, 8-4, to Cedar Rapids. Vogelbach’s blast was his 11th. He finished with two RBIs.
Iowa had Wednesday off.
Tennessee’s game vs. Jackson was postponed because of weather.
Daytona’s game against Bradenton was postponed because of rain.
Pierce Johnson gave up two earned runs on five hits over five innings in Kane County’s 8-6 win over Burlington. Reggie Golden had three hits and two RBIs and Oliver Zapata had two hits, one RBI and a stolen base. Dan Vogelbach had two hits, including his ninth home run, and a double, and drew two walks.
Guillermo Moscoso gave up three runs over six innings in Iowa’s 6-0 loss to Round Rock Thursday. Logan Watkins extended his hitting streak to nine games with a double, and Steve Clevenger was 1-for-3 with a double in his third rehab game. Clevenger has hit safely in all three games he’s played.
Alberto Cabrera gave up five runs over five innings in Tennessee’s 5-0 loss to Jackson in the first game of a doubleheader. In the second game, Eric Jokisch gave up one earned run but took the loss in a 2-1 decision. Ronald Torreyes and Rafael Lopez each had two hits.
Daytona’s game against Bradenton was canceled because of rain. On Friday, the Cubs play Brevard County.
Jose Rosario gave up one earned run over five innings in Kane County’s 9-0 loss to Burlington. Jeimer Candelario had two hits and Albert Almora was 1-for-4, and batting .415 so far.