The Chicago Cubs are fading fast in the National League wild-card race this summer and have acknowledged it by becoming big-time sellers in the lead-up to this July's trade deadline.
Chicago already traded one of the faces of the franchise, outfielder Alfonso Soriano, to the New York Yankees this past weekend. The veteran left-fielder was batting .254 and had a team-best 17 home runs this season.
Pitchers Matt Garza, Scott Feldman and Carlos Marmol have also been dealt within the past month.
With the potential for more deals to come, let's take a look at the latest buzz surrounding the Cubs as the midseason trade deadline nears.
Cubs Asking for a Lot in Potential Jeff Samardzija Trade?
According to CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman, the Chicago Cubs don't plan on parting ways with right-handed pitcher Jeff Samardzija for cheap this summer:
...the Cubs are basically requesting of teams that they "take whatever they want'' when it comes to a potential Samardzija deal.
That may be a slight exaggeration, but not much.
The Cubs obviously like what Samardzija brings to the table, but it seems the club would be willing to part ways with one of its best starting pitchers if it can land enough talent in exchange.
Samardzija, who is from the Midwest and apparently loves the Windy City, per Heyman, is 6-9 this season with a 3.75 ERA and 146 strikeouts.
Heyman adds that the Arizona Diamondbacks have shown interest in Samardzija's arm, but that they aren't the only team that's been following the 28-year-old this season. At the moment, Samardzija looks to be available, but the hefty price tag could be enough to prevent a deal from getting done.
Chicago Listening to Offers for James Russell, Nate Schierholtz
As the trade deadline draws closer, the Cubs are weighing offers for reliever James Russell and outfielder Nate Schierholtz, according to ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine.
The interest appears to be significant, as a handful of teams have called about each player. Russell, who's sporting a 3.08 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 53 appearances on the mound this season, was nearly shipped off to Atlanta last week, per Levine.
Which player is most likely to be dealt at the deadline?
Meanwhile, the NL East-leading Pittsburgh Pirates have been scouting Schierholtz for the past month.
Schierholtz is batting .272 this season with 14 homers and 43 RBI through 89 games. The seventh-year veteran has been strong in the field this season as well, boasting a .987 fielding percentage and committing just two errors all year long.
For a team expecting to contend for a World Series title this coming fall like Pittsburgh, the scorching-hot Schierholtz would be a worthwhile midseason addition.
The Braves would certainly love to get their hands on Russell given all the injuries their bullpen has suffered this season. The 27-year-old would add some much-needed depth for a team with World Series aspirations.
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