Looking back on Cubs' success as trade-deadline sellers

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein, right, and general manager Jed Hoyer have had some success as sellers at the MLB trade deadline, but this year they figure to be buyers.

    Cubs president Theo Epstein, right, and general manager Jed Hoyer have had some success as sellers at the MLB trade deadline, but this year they figure to be buyers. Associated Press/file

 
 
Updated 7/18/2015 12:31 PM

It's been quite some time since the Cubs were buyers as the July 31 nonwaiver trading deadline approached.

To be exact, it was 2009.

 

On July 30 of that year, then-general manager Jim Hendry obtained pitchers Tom Gorzelanny and John Grabow from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitchers Kevin Hart and Jose Ascanio and an infield prospect named Josh Harrison.

You're welcome, Pirates, for getting a 2014 all-star in Harrison.

As this year's deadline fast approaches, the Cubs are buyers once again. The regime headed by president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer has its upstart team in a precarious position for the second wild-card spot in the National League.

Much of the talk focuses on the Cubs trying to obtain a starting pitcher, but a bat sure would look good in a lineup struggling to score runs.

Time will tell if the Cubs are as successful as buyers as it looks like they've been as sellers since Epstein and Hoyer sold, sold and sold at or near the trading deadline since 2012.

The current Cubs roster, as well as the prospect list, contains the products of Epstein and Hoyer trading off veterans for youngsters as part of their massive rebuild. Let's rank the trades:

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Fourth of July firecracker:

While skyrockets were taking flight on Independence Day last year, pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel were preparing to take flight and join the Oakland Athletics.

In return, the Cubs received top infield prospect Addison Russell, pitcher Dan Straily, outfield prospect Billy McKinney and cash considerations.

The Cubs also left the door wide open for Hammel's return, and he walked through it this past off-season as a free agent. The trade and the return of Hammel have made this one a huge win for the Cubs, at least at this stage.

Russell, a shortstop by trade, is handling second base like a veteran even as he learns to handle major-league pitching with his bat.

McKinney had a combined line of .306/.380/.465 with 6 homers and 50 RBI entering Saturday between stops at Class A Myrtle Beach and Class AA Tennessee this season. He could be in the major-league picture next year.

The Baltimore chop:

Just over two years ago, the Cubs sent starting pitcher Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger to the Orioles for some pitching potential: starter Jake Arrieta and reliever Pedro Strop. The Cubs also received two international signing-bonus slots.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

At the time of the trade, Arrieta had a 7.23 ERA in 5 starts for the Orioles and a 4.41 ERA at Class AAA Norfolk. The Cubs sent Arrieta to Class AAA Iowa to work on his command. He came up for a start and went right back down before finishing the year with the Cubs.

Since then, Arrieta has grown into the ace of the Cubs starting rotation. Strop, a couple of recent hiccups notwithstanding, has been a dependable part of the bullpen.

Feldman moved on to Houston from Baltimore, and Clevenger has been a role player, bouncing between Baltimore and Norfolk.

Score another big win for the Cubs with this deal.

Texas two-step, Part 2:

On July 22, 2013, the Cubs sent volatile starting pitcher Matt Garza to the Rangers and received a haul in return: pitchers Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards and Neil Ramirez and third baseman Mike Olt.

The Rangers wound up empty-handed in the end on that one, too, as Garza flew off to Milwaukee via free agency.

Grimm is a key right-handed setup man for the Cubs, as is the hard-throwing Ramirez. Edwards, who now goes by Carl Edwards Jr., could be up later this year, but he also may be the target of other teams who want to trade with the Cubs.

Olt suffered an injury early this season and was supplanted at third base by Kris Bryant. He may end up in another organization.

Texas two-step, Part 1:

In 2012, everybody knew popular pitcher Ryan Dempster would be traded. The only question was where. Dempster nixed a deal to Atlanta, as was his right, and a deal with the Dodgers couldn't get done.

The Cubs wound up sending Dempster to Texas for an infield prospect (Christian Villanueva) and a pitching prospect (Kyle Hendricks).

Dempster went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA the rest of the season with Texas before he signed with Boston and finished his career by getting a championship ring in 2013. He's back now as a special assistant to Epstein and Hoyer.

Hendricks came up last year and impressed. This season, he's the Cubs' fourth starter, with a record of 4-4, an ERA of 3.44 and a WHIP of 1.11.

Villanueva is a good-fielding third baseman who could be a trading chip this year.

They all don't work out:

The Cubs signed lefty Paul Maholm before the 2012, and there was a good chance they'd "flip" him to another team at or near the trading deadline.

They did so on July 30 after he went a respectable 9-6 with a 3.74 ERA on a bad Cubs team. Maholm and center fielder Reed Johnson went to Atlanta in exchange for pitching prospects Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino.

Chapman appeared in 14 games for the Cubs in 2012, and that was it.

If you watched Friday night's Cubs-Braves game, you saw Vizcaino -- pitching for the Braves.

Persistent elbow problems kept Vizcaino from reaching his highly touted potential with the Cubs, so they dealt him to the Braves last off-season for infielder Tommy La Stella, who has been on the disabled list since April.

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