The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that the Cubs were pursuing Roberts, who made the All-Star team for the second time last season. Andy MacPhail, the Orioles president of baseball operations, knows the Cubs system well, having served as team president.
The Cubs would not confirm the talks Wednesday, but Roberts is the type of player they are interested in.
"We've talked to a lot of clubs about a lot of people," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "I don't feel it's appropriate to talk about anybody's players who aren't mine."
Roberts hit .290 in 156 games for the Orioles last season, stole 50 bases and posted a .377 on-base percentage.
While the emphasis has been on finding a left-handed hitting outfielder, the Cubs also want some speed and another left-handed bat in the mix, and tried to satisfy that by signing Matsui. However, he chose to sign with the Houston Astros.
"Anybody who can hit left-handed and run and play the middle of the infield, we would certainly still look into," Hendry said, without specifying a player.
Hendry is still waiting for word on whether Kosuke Fukudome will leave Japan and come to the U.S., and may leave the Winter Meetings on Thursday not knowing the outfielder's decision.
The Cubs brass spent most of Wednesday prepping for the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held Thursday.
"Some of the things you might like to do, maybe the other teams aren't there yet," Hendry said. "We all have our own little wish list of, 'Gee, if we could do these two or three things in the next month, we could be pretty good.' At the same time, you don't orchestrate the timing of when the other party might get serious."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.