Hoyer reflects on Verlander talks, Martin deal

Cubs add Freeman, Caratini, Maples to expanded roster; Grimm activated

Hoyer reflects on Verlander talks, Martin deal

CHICAGO -- The Cubs talked to the Tigers about possibly acquiring pitcher Justin Verlander, but Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer said Friday that it appeared that Detroit had a deal with Houston and wasn't going to budge.

"I think Detroit liked that offer all along," Hoyer said of the deal Thursday that sent Verlander to the Astros. "I think they were pretty focused on Houston all along.

"Because they had a deal they liked, we never got that deep into it," Hoyer said. "In the end, it worked out for Detroit and for Houston. That was going to end up being the result for almost the entire month."

The Cubs may have been able to handle Verlander's contract, but they had tapped into their farm system earlier this year to acquire Jose Quintana and Alex Avila from the Tigers. The Astros acquired Verlander for three top prospects.

• The Cubs did make a move late Thursday, acquiring outfielder Leonys Martin and cash from the Mariners for a player to be named or cash. Martin is expected to join the Cubs on Saturday, when the team will have to make a move on the 40-man roster.

"Joe [Maddon] always asks us for a guy who can steal a base, play outfield defense in September and, hopefully, play well enough to play in October," Hoyer said. "Martin provides that. He's a good baserunner, good basestealer, good defender."

• The Cubs added four players on Friday, the day Major League rosters expand, selecting the contracts of infielder Mike Freeman and reliever Dillon Maples, recalling catcher Victor Caratini and activating reliever Justin Grimm from the disabled list. To make room on the 40-man roster for Freeman and Maples, right-handed pitchers Seth Frankoff and Jose Rosario were designated for assignment.

Freeman will provide some backup at shortstop, which is needed with Addison Russell being sidelined an additional three weeks after he aggravated plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

Hoyer said the Cubs looked at the waiver wire for other options as well.

"The list of guys who cleared waivers at that position was small," Hoyer said. "There wasn't anything more appealing."

Russell, who has not played since Aug. 2, has now missed 26 games, counting Friday's contest against the Braves. There isn't much time left in the season for him to return.

"I'm optimistic," Hoyer said. "Our defense is notably better with both Javier Baez and Addy in the lineup at the same time. We have to get this guy healthy and hopefully not have a setback."

Freeman was released by the Dodgers earlier this year, then signed as a free agent with the Cubs. He batted .306 in 80 games at Triple-A.

"I'm prepared for any role I'm put into," Freeman said. "You hate for a guy like Addison to go down. I know how much he means to this team. My role can vary day to day. I'm ready for whatever opportunity comes my way."

Freeman played eight positions this year, and even pitched.

"I know Joe likes versatility, so I like the fit here," Freeman said.

He's changed uniforms a lot.

"This is the sixth clubhouse I've walked into," Freeman said. "It's certainly been an interesting year, to say the least. Wherever there's opportunity, I'm happy to go. Whatever role I can fill and however I can help the team win, I'll do that."

• The Cubs announced the Sept. 16 game against the Cardinals, currently listed as 12:05 p.m. CT, will now start at 3:05 p.m. CT.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.