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Cubs trade Maholm, Johnson, Soto but not Dempster -- yet

The SportsXchange

The Chicago Cubs announced one trade Monday night and were poised to make another, and neither involved pitcher Ryan Dempster.

Before the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 14-4 at Wrigley Field, reporters surrounded Dempster and asked him if he thought he would make Tuesday's scheduled start for Chicago.

When the night ended, Dempster was still a Cub, but other players weren't.

The Cubs sent left-handed pitcher Paul Maholm and backup outfielder Reed Johnson to the Atlanta Braves for minor league right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman.

They also reportedly were set to sent catcher Geovany Soto to the Texas Rangers for minor league pitcher Jacob Brigham.

All of the traded players received hugs and handshakes in the dugout during the game.

Because of Major League Baseball technicalities, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer could comment on only the Atlanta deal.

"I think we've been really clear all along that we're not contending right now, and we need to take assets that are shorter term and turn them into longer-term assets," Hoyer said.

Johnson has been a valuable backup outfielder for the Cubs in two stints in Chicago. Maholm has turned into the team's most effective pitcher of late and has a 9-6 record and 3.74 ERA for the season.

In one way, it seemed only natural for the Cubs to trade Maholm. However, the Cubs did have a player option on him for next season.

"It was hard," Hoyer said. "We did control him for next year, and that was a difficult decision. It probably came down to getting a 21-year-old with that kind of arm. I don't think we would have been able to get that kind of body if he (Maholm) was under control only for the next couple months."

As for Dempster, he could be gone, too, along with right-hander Matt Garza. Manager Dale Sveum was blunt when asked if he'd be surprised if Dempster was here to make his start Tuesday.

"Yeah, I'd be surprised, I guess," Sveum said. "Yeah, I would. There's just too many teams and he's too good a pitcher for people not to want him these last two months."

Dempster told reporters he was preparing to start, in Chicago, on Tuesday. Last week, he nixed a trade to the Braves, invoking his veteran rights as a 10-and-5 player (10 years in the majors, the last five with the same team).

"It's an emotional roller-coaster sometimes, but at the same time, I can only control what I can control and try to do the best job of that," he said. "I've got a job to do tomorrow and that's go out there and pitch and try to prepare for that and get ready for that."
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