Solid young core not enough for Epstein

CHICAGO – Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein admitted Wednesday that despite recent success from the team’s young nucleus of players, he hasn’t dropped his guard to dream of a brighter future.

Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jeff Samardzija and Darwin Barney all have shown signs that good things are ahead. Epstein might be thinking that way too, but he isn’t letting on that it’s on his mind.

“I think building is a working process,” Epstein said before Wednesday’s game. “We’re trying to get better every day as an organization and there are a lot of different things that go into building a championship caliber organization.

“The emergence of young talent in the minor leagues is important, scouting is important, things that happen in the big leagues are very important … most important. We want all our players to progress, get better and solidify the roles they are in and maybe look to the future to play an even bigger role.

“Like we said at the beginning of the year, we could always use more impact talent and we still feel that way. You don’t get satisfied when one, two or three players break through and start to emerge. You want to try to get as many as you can.”

Epstein characterized the current trade climate as typical for this time of the year, which seems to be a bit understated with guys like Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza receiving plenty of attention.

The Cubs clearly need an influx of pitching talent from return pieces from Dempster and/or Garza. And while Epstein claims he won’t limit himself to just pitchers, it will be a major focus of trade talks.

“I don’t think it’s smart to pigeonhole yourself in to one situation,” Epstein said. “(But) we need to add a lot of pitching to the system. It’s not enough to have a handful or one or two. You need to have waves and waves of pitching coming through your system and we don’t have that. We don’t hardly even have one wave coming so we need to rebuild a lot of pitching depth.”

Yet, at the same time, Epstein says the Cubs don’t have to make deals if they don’t want to and characterizes that as an advantage for the club.

“It's always good to have the market dynamic on your side with more buyers than sellers,” Epstein said. “It's nice to have leverage on your side. The potential of doing nothing and being fine with that is always a nice option to have. We'll see. The trade market is still developing. As you get closer to the trade deadline team's desires and the intensity of those become clear.”

The expectation remains, though, that the Cubs will make at least one deal and likely multiple moves before the end of the month. So what will remain if veterans are removed from the roster?

“No matter what we do we’ll field a roster that will prepare hard and go out and compete each time to go out and win games,” Epstein said.