Cubs happy to give up little to gain Dan Haren and Tommy Hunter
Theo Epstein discusses the Cubs’ trades.
Cubs President Theo Epstein isn’t discouraged because he couldn’t finalize two significant trades.
“We’re satisfied with the outcome,” Epstein said Friday night after acquiring Dan Haren from the Marlins to fill the fifth spot in the rotation and Tommy Hunter from the Orioles to bolster the bullpen at the trade deadline.
The deals, which cost the Cubs three minor-league players, were completed in the final three hours leading up to the deadline and after the Cubs aimed higher to land younger impact pitching at the cost of some of their marquee prospects.
“There were times throughout the week and especially the last 24 hours when we felt we had some traction, some momentum at least getting close to the final stages,” said Epstein, who was in negotiations with the Padres for pitcher Tyson Ross and reportedly with the Indians for Carlos Carrasco.
“It takes two to tango. We were very aggressive packaging our prospects, especially for controllable impact major-league talent. The two main players we ended up focused on ended up not getting moved. … It’s OK. We’ll definitely live to fight another day.”
The most urgent battles involve the Cubs fighting for the final wild-card playoff spot against the Giants and Mets, and the Cubs are optimistic after acquiring Haren and Hunter.
Haren, 34, is 7-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 21 starts for the Marlins and has gained more respect for becoming more polished as his velocity has dipped into the mid-to-high 80 mph range.
“He’s throwing 86 (mph) and still getting a lot of people out,” said catcher Miguel Montero, who played with Haren for the Diamondbacks from 2008-2010. Montero sent a congratulatory text message to Haren, who is expected to start for the Cubs either Tuesday or Wednesday against the Pirates.
Haren makes no secret of his declining velocity, as evidenced by his Twitter handle “ithrow88.’'
The Cubs dealt pitcher Ivan Pineyro and infielder Eliot Soto from Double-A Tennessee to acquire Haren, who can become a free agent after this season.
Hunter, 29, has made an impressive transition from a starter with the Rangers to a reliever with the Orioles, for whom he has 39 holds, 15 saves and a 3.05 ERA in 167 relief appearances the last three seasons.
“He features a lot of high-quality stuff,” said Jake Arrieta, who played with Hunter from 2011-2013. “He’s going to be good in the clubhouse. … He’s like a big teddy bear.”
The Cubs traded outfielder Junior Lake, who never regained a semblance of his impressive second half in 2013, for Hunter.
Manager Joe Maddon was more than content with the acquisitions.
“I like what we did — not a little bit, but a lot,” Maddon said. “Think about how much thicker it makes your starting rotation, and how much thicker it makes you bullpen. I still think we have enough offense here.”
The consolation of not finalizing a big trade was that Epstein still possesses his top prospects that could serve as currency to acquire impact pitching.
“You’ll see some trades over the next few years,” Epstein said. “We almost made some big ones (Friday).”
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