- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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PITTSBURGH -- With the July 31st trading deadline approaching, a few Chicago Cubs will be rumor mill fodder over the next three weeks.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said Friday he has heard from a few of his peers across baseball who are inquiring about the availability of his players.
"I've had a few calls about our players that we aren't going to move," Hendry said. "I think very friendly, they were just taking a shot. [They said] 'didn't think you would, but we're taking a shot.' ... That's usually the way that is."
Many scouts have been following the Cubs in recent weeks, anticipating the team could be a seller considering its lowly status in the standings.
"No matter what happens [with the present team], it doesn't change the focus of what we are trying to do over the next month," Hendry said. "Everything we do will be designed to get better and moving forward. There won't be pieces moved that will be integral parts of the club a year from now."
Players such as Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow and possibly Aramis Ramirez have contracts that expire after the 2011 season. Ramirez and the Cubs have mutual options to extend his deal for one more season; there is a $2 million buyout if the Cubs opt not to exercise their portion of the option.
"It's just normal banter," Hendry said. "That [happens] when you're having a bad first half like we've had ... people think you'd just back up the truck and start moving bodies out. It's not a question of having to move money. We will try to do things that make logical sense and hopefully we do make some moves. But as we all know most of the trades that pop up in July are usually late. Most of the time, they weren't the ones that you planned."
Three Yankees scouts, among others, were watching the Cubs during their four-game set with the Washington Nationals, ESPNChicago.com reported Thursday. The Yankees need left-handed bullpen help and may add a bat for the stretch run. Grabow has had three strong outings in a row for the Cubs of late.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs for ESPNChicago.com.
Cubs general manager Jim Hendry says teams are making inquiries about player availability.