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.