There is a fine line between competing for a playoff spot and falling out of the race entirely. Reigning MLB World Series champions the Chicago Cubs were toeing that line as they neared the All-Star break this season and team president Theo Epstein had some decisions to make.
Epstein nearly made trades which would have sent ripples across the entire league.
Notable Cubs players who are scheduled to be free agents next season include pitchers John Lackey, Jake Arrieta, and Wade Davis.
"If we had fallen to eight, nine games out [of the NL Central lead] we would have been certainly looking at considering moving some players who are rentals but we immediately played great out of the stretch and didn't have to head down that road," Epstein told reporters Tuesday.
Instead, the Cubs took a chance and traded for southpaw Jose Quintana on July 13 and added reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila just before Monday's deadline.
Since the trade for Quintana, the Cubs have a 13-3 record and have gone from second in the NL Central standings to 56-48 and leading the division by two and a half games entering Tuesday's fixtures.
"If we hadn't had that stretch and we continued to play tough baseball we may have been on the other end of some deals," Epstein said.