Expect Cubs to be active in deadline deals

PHOENIX -- You can count on the Chicago Cubs continuing as sellers on the open baseball market before the window on trading without putting a player through waivers closes six days from now.

With many of his players’ contracts expiring, president of baseball operation Theo Epstein has been transparent about his plans to keep building his organizations base with younger players.

“We have received some calls on some other potential opportunities, but nothing really concrete yet,” Epstein said Wednesday. “If we do anything, it will probably be closer to the deadline.”

The Cubs have outfielders with contracts set to expire in 2013; David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz are solid outfielders who bring multiple tools on offense and defense. And Alfonso Soriano already is close to returning to the New York Yankees, sources told ESPN.com on Thursday night.

Bullpen pitchers Kevin Gregg and James Russell have been getting a lot of looks, according to sources who have been watching the Cubs for the past three weeks. Gregg is a free agent after the season. Russell has three full years of arbitration left before becoming a free agent.

“Potentially, we will be hearing from people on the guys who we don’t control after this year,” Epstein said. “It would make more sense moving those guys.”

There is little question Gregg has had a terrific season as the team’s closer, going 19-for-22 in save chances. However, it has been Russell who has been more in demand for many of the contending clubs.

According to numerous sources, at least five teams have called about Russell. The Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks are known to have interest in the left-handed pitcher.