Down and all but out before the All-Star break, the Chicago Cubs are starting to make moves for the future.
The team traded starting pitcher Scott Feldman to the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday and former All-Star reliever Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In exchange for Marmol, the Cubs received veteran reliever Matt Guerrier. They got right-handers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop as well as two international signing bonus slots from the Orioles for Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger.
"I don't want to say it's tough. You know it's got a chance of happening," Chicago manager Dale Sveum said about a potential payroll purge before his club opened a three-game series in Oakland.
The Cubs (35-45) entered Tuesday 15 1/2 games behind first-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central. And with the latest trades, seemingly ready to ride out another lost season on the North Side.
Feldman had been scheduled to start against the Athletics on Tuesday night. Instead, the Cubs called up lefty Chris Rusin from Triple-A Iowa to take his place.
Feldman left Texas to sign a $6 million, one-year contract with the Cubs last winter and went 7-6 with a 3.46 ERA in 15 starts for them. He is 46-50 with a 4.66 ERA in 219 major league games over nine seasons.
The Cubs designated Marmol for assignment last week after he went 2-4 with two saves and a 5.86 ERA in 31 appearances, striking out 32 while walking 21. An All-Star as a setup man in 2008, Marmol's best year as a closer was 2010, when he had 38 saves in 43 chances along with 138 strikeouts and 52 walks. But fans had begun booing him and management was eager to cut a deal with the Dodgers, who also acquired an international signing bonus slot.
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said team scouts are high on the international class and the additional dollars will allow them to be more aggressive. Asked what type of message the club sent by parting ways with two noteworthy players, Sveum said nobody on his team should be surprised or upset at this point.
"I'm not concerned about that," Sveum said. "We're still viable and being able to fill those roles right now. Obviously, you start getting more thinner, things could change that way. But they're professional players. They have to go out and perform."
The Cubs are hoping a change of scenery will spark the players they got back.
Arrieta is 20-25 with a 5.46 ERA over the last four seasons with Baltimore. Strop was 5-2 with three saves, 24 holds and a 2.44 ERA last season as the primary setup man for the Orioles. He has battled a back strain this year, going 0-3 with a 7.25 ERA. Arrieta will be assigned to Iowa, while Strop is expected to report to the Cubs later this week.
Guerrier is 25-33 with six saves and a 3.54 ERA over 10 seasons in the majors. He went 2-3 with a 4.80 ERA this season before being designated for assignment by the Dodgers on Sunday.
The Cubs also said they had acquired two international signing bonus slots from the Houston Astros for minor league infielder Ronald Torreyes, who batted .260 with two home runs and 25 RBIs in 64 games with Double-A Tennessee this season. He was originally acquired by the Cubs with left-handed pitcher Travis Wood and outfielder Dave Sappelt from Cincinnati for left-handed pitcher Sean Marshall in 2011.
Sappelt was recalled from Iowa, and outfielder Ryan Sweeney (broken rib) was placed on the 60-day disabled list retroactive to Sunday.