Ryan Dempster remains the primary focus of not only the Cubs’ trade radar, but arguably baseball as a whole…

  • Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cubs are exchanging names with a number of teams about Dempster, which squares with what we’ve heard over the last few days. He lists the Dodgers, Tigers, Red Sox, and Braves, specifically. A friend of Dempster says he’d probably accept a trade to the Red Sox (who are also still interested in Matt Garza), but the Dodgers are a “better fit.”
  • On those Red Sox, though, a day after we heard that they were “aggressively” pursuing Dempster, WEEI reports that’s not so. Instead, WEEI says the Red Sox haven’t been actively pursuing Dempster, and prefer to see if Franklin Morales (3.16 ERA) and Aaron Cook (3.34 ERA) are legit. That could very well be true, but, given the flukiness of their success, and the Red Sox’s anticipated improvement in the second half (with the returns of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford, particularly), I have a hard time believing they’re going to leave their rotation to chance. The report feels a bit like spin, if I’m being completely honest.
  • Speaking of interest in Dempster, you can add yet another team to the mix: the Nationals. Although they have a full rotation, and a couple of options in the minors, the Nats are reportedly still exploring the possibility of adding a rental pitcher, who could help them in the second half when Stephen Strasburg reaches his much-discussed innings limit. The Nationals have a solid farm system, even after promoting some of their top young talent, and trading a bunch of kids to the A’s for Gio Gonzalez.
  • Ken Rosenthal separately talks about the possibility of a team trading for Ryan Dempster wanting to sign him to an extension, commensurate with the trade. It’s not uncommon for teams to want that – or for players with no-trade rights to want it – but Dempster is an interesting case. Everyone suggests the same thing when they talk about a Dempster trade: get some prospects, and then bring him back next year! It’s obviously the dream scenario that fans propose about all of their favorite players who are traded in the year before free agency. Except it almost never happens. Guys just don’t come back to teams that dumped them, and teams that dump guys just don’t want them back (for more money). Dempster, however, really could be the exception. He loves Chicago and the Cubs more than most, and he’s so on board with this trade idea that he’s suggested he wants to make sure the Cubs get the most possible out of him in trade. Indeed, Dempster even told Bob Nightengale explicitly that he’d welcome a return to the Cubs in 2013 after being traded this year. (Query whether the Cubs are going to want Dempster back, given the direction of the Cubs. But that’s a separate discussion, one probably best left for, say, November.)
  • No surprise, but Jayson Stark and Joel Sherman say they’ve heard the Cubs are working hard to deal Dempster by the end of this week (i.e., before his scheduled start on Friday).
  • If you want to learn a bit more about the possible prospect returns in a Ryan Dempster deal, there’s a good thread going on over at the Message Board, with a particular focus on Tigers’ prospects not named Castellanos or Turner.
  • Phil Rogers guesses that the Cubs are in the “final stages” of putting a Dempster deal together, and lists the finalists as the Red Sox, Dodgers, Tigers, and Braves (the same as Rosenthal’s list). If it’s to be the Tigers, Rogers could see it becoming a Dempster/Darwin Barney package for a huge haul, probably not including Nick Castellanos or Jacob Turner.
  • In the offseason, consistent with what we heard at the time, the Cubs were asking for a huge return on Matt Garza. Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs wanted something similar to what the A’s got for Gio Gonzalez, a pitcher who offered one more year of team control. A fair approach, all things considered, but it makes you wonder how flexible the Cubs will be in order to make a deal happen before the deadline.
  • We’ve heard this before, but here’s another report (from Danny Knobler) discussing the Royals’ interest in Matt Garza, among other starting pitchers.
  • Keep an eye on injuries like those to Jose Bautista and David Ortiz. While your initial reaction might be that it will force the Blue Jays and Red Sox to try and pick up a bat, it could, instead, have the opposite effect: they could decide the uphill climb they already face just got a little too uphilly.
  • This is completely meaningless in any real sense, but the Cubs are one of four teams on Justin Upton’s no-trade list. Together with the Yankees and Red Sox, the Cubs make sense – players often list the biggest market teams who might actually try to acquire them on their lists, thinking that they can wield their no-trade clause to squeeze an extension out of a trade to one of those teams. The fourth team, though, is the Indians. That one is pretty much just a straight up dear-God-no-I-don’t-want-to-live-in-Cleveland kind of thing. How could anyone not want to live in Cleveland? (And again.)
  • UPDATE: Joel Sherman just added some bits on Twitter that he’s hearing from execs: (1) Dempster is likely to be the first big piece to be traded, which will set into motion other trades; (2) the Cubs have many reasons to trade Dempster, and they’re making strong efforts to do so; and (3) Garza is more of a 50/50 proposition to be dealt by the deadline, and his value could be hurt if the Rays decide to start unloading pitching.
  • AD

    Rangers are not giving up Perez or Olt, nonetheless both and fillers for Garza.

    • Gcheezpuff

      I think if the rangers are serious about adding an arm and the price for pitching remains high, the cubs could get Olt and a prospect arm back. Olt is still a prospect and is blocked at 3rd by Beltran. Sure they could try him in the outfield or at first, but he is most valuable at 3rd. Profar is not going anywhere, but I see the Rangers dealing Olt at some point. If Greinke and Hamels both extend, Garza is the best available option. Still unlikely as the Rangers probably aren’t exactly desperate to add a SP, but if they call on Garza, my guess is the price is gonna be Olt.

  • Kevin

    Turner throwing batting practice against the Angels. Good thing we didn’t trade for him.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Still thinking somebody not yet mentioned slides in and steals the prize. Don’t be surprised if the Angels don’t sneak in and grab Dempster or Garza. Ervin Santana isn’t doing well and the the Angels ain’t foolin around. They bet the farm with their off season deals. They can’t come up short. I think Garza will end up on the west coast personally. He could easily be an Angel.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    If one goes to the Angels then the other could end up in Texas. Those two are going to be in the fight blow for blow. Neither one will settle for being out done. The Angels are what 4 games back of the Rangers. That’s were the heat is going to come from.

  • Kevin

    Talk about frugal teams – are the Cubs impossible or are the other teams being difficult?

  • Kevin

    Maybe we should only talk to the Yankees. We know Hendry has a set of balls to pull the trigger on a trade.

  • Kevin

    Take Garza off the trade market and sign him to an extension. If Dempster doesn’t bring back anything better than a supplements pick keep him as well. Done!

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      Yep, because the current model is working real well.

  • Trigger

    (My first comment here, glad I found this site this year this site is awesome, thanks Brett and all the comment participants.)

    I like this team’s chances of competing next year and hope they don’t entirely blow up the roster. That means I want Garza, LaHair, & Barney to stay and Dempster to come back next year. (Until the grand slam Carlos Lee just hit) The pitching staff has been awesome since the 24-48 low point. These 5 could make a formidable staff next year that I believe could keep the Cubs in contention. Add another good free agent starter and next year is even more appealing to me.

    On the offense side, perhaps one more big bat that can crush lefties and the Cubs look like they could score more consistently. 3rd Base? Probably hard to find a big 3B bat, but if they could… As a former catcher I’m a big Geo Soto fan and would be thrilled if he snapped back into his old hitting ways too. Not a Soriano fan, but rather see him paid to be above average for the Cubs than for another team.

    I know I’m a crazy Cub fan, but how far off am I in thinking the core of this team could compete next year? Doesn’t seem like they’d need to add much to compete.

    (Peoria native and have great memories of Chiefs games from my youth in the 70s, 80s. Greg Maddux, Mark Grace, Jerome Walton, Dwight Smith, Heathcliff Slocumb, Palmeiro… Heck, I remember when they were the Peoria Suns and I went to their little league camp as a small fry.)

    • Ted

      I could just be the eternal Cubs optimist, but I’m certainly on board with the idea that we can be a competitor sooner than most people give us credit for (I’m seeing 2015-16 thrown around as when we’ll be competitive and I think that’s absurd). At the end of the day, we have some strong pieces (Wood, Shark, Castro, Rizzo) and some solid bit players (Barney, Russel, Clevenger); with the signing of a few high-profile FAs — which this huge market team can afford to do, regardless of what rebuilding mode we’re in — I think we can be around .500 next year and competitors the year after.

      Now, whether we do make those signings is another thing. After all, even as basement-dwellers the Ricketts are still pulling 8th-place crowds.

      • Trigger

        Thanks Ted, for indulging me and my maybe next year fantasy. Volstad’s starts and that 12 game losing streak seems to be what will keep the Cubs from .500 ball this year was my thinking. Trades may impact the rest of this year, but to me, the Cubs look like a .500 club right now. That’s where my optimism comes from about next year, and the current 12-4 stretch (soon to be 12-5).

        Garza, Dempster, Wood, Samard??? (Shark works better), and Maholm/Free Agent improvement seems like a solid, competitive rotation.

        Can they add to improve the offense next year? Upgrade 3B. Solid platoon partner for LaHair. Perhaps upgrade CF, although DeJesus is growing on me with his OBP. Soto with a .270 15HR 70RBI bounce back year. Castro, Rizzo, Barney, Soriano, looks like a decent core for next year. A couple more pieces for next year (or 2) while the young guys develop in the minors, and I don’t see why they can’t compete in 2013.

        A guy can dream anyway.

    • MichCubFan

      I don’t mind trying to win next year as long as it doesn’t get in the way of anything that could help us in 2014 and on.

  • Nick

    Any chance the Yankees want Soriano in LF for the rest of the year and then move him to DH once Gardner gets healthy?

    • Gcheezpuff

      I like the idea, but I think the yanks have too many aging Vets they are gonna need to keep the DH open for.

  • Brady

    A baseball team, in Cleveland? I didn’t even know they had a team!