Cubs rumors: Chicago to be deadline sellers?

Jennifer Hilderbrand-US PRESSWIRE

The Cubs have high hopes for 2013, but they won't hesitate to move players come July if they aren't in contention.

The regular season is still a little more than a month away, but rumors about the July trade deadline are already upon us. The first such rumor comes out of Cubs camp and concerns the prospect that Epstein, Hoyer, and associates will likely be sellers again at this year's deadline if they struggle out of the gate, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com:

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, said they may [be sellers again] this year if they struggle. Cubs manager Dale Sveum is prepared.

"That's part of the business," Sveum said. "If your team is out of it, to start building and getting a healthier organization, unfortunately or fortunately, that's part of the business."

The Cubs limped out to a 43-59 record last season -- on their way to 101 losses -- and sold Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Geovany Soto, and Reed Johnson at the deadline as a result.

While Sveum is prepped for another sale this year, he's still hopeful that the club's revamped starting rotation and the additions of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston in the outfield will push the Cubs into contention in the NL Central. Coming off a 100-loss season, however, makes that a difficult task.

Right-hander Matt Garza and outfielder Alfonso Soriano seem the most likely candidates to go at the deadline, as both names have been topic of trade rumors for well over a year. While Garza's name hasn't popped up on the rumor mill since he went down with an elbow injury late last year, his name will likely come up again if he can put together a healthy first half. Soriano recently told media outlets that he is "open to a trade," but that he wants to give the Cubs a chance this year before he goes.

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