How I haven’t been classifying this as an Obsessive Watch, I’ll never know. When you’re one of the five most valuable trade chips on the market, and you’re the most obvious piece to be moved, there’s going to be a whole lot written about you.

So it is with Ryan Dempster, about whom we’re going to keep hearing a ton of rumors until he’s actually dealt (much of it conflicting – that’s just the way these things play out; I’ll do my best to steer you in the right direction). In the last 20 hours, alone …

  • We keep hearing about the Dodgers, who are considered by most to be the clear frontrunner for Dempster. A “high-ranking Cubs official” tells Bob Nightengale that, yup, the Dodgers are the leaders.
  • The Dodgers are also Dempster’s preferred destination, according to Ken Rosenthal. His second preference is to go to the Braves, but he’s open to going to any contender, depending on the deals offered up by the other participants in the bidding. Buster Olney adds that, from the perspective of building value for his next contract, the Dodgers are a good fit for Dempster (I presume he means not only because it’s a nice place to pitch (and is in the NL), but also because the Dodgers are expected to spend a fair bit this Winter, and getting Dempster now might make them more likely to make a handsome extension offer).
  • Ah, but Toni Ginnetti says the Dodgers are no longer the frontrunner for Dempster, and the possible leaders instead being other names we’ve heard, including the Tigers, Red Sox, and Braves (she says the Nationals and Yankees aren’t as interested as we might have heard). I can’t quite see a reason why the Dodgers’ interest in Dempster would have cooled, except possibly that the Cubs’ asking price remains steep. We’ve heard that the Dodgers may have already offered Garrett Gould and Chris Withrow (which would be an acceptable, but unsexy return), but could the Cubs be holding out for …
  • The Dodgers’ top prospect is easily pitcher Zach Lee. A 20-year-old righty, Lee is a top 100 prospect and is already at AA (though he’s struggled through four starts). He would seem to be too much to ask for Dempster, alone, but maybe the Cubs are holding out anyway. Or, as Doug Padilla suggests, the Cubs could be trying to include Bryan LaHair or a prospect in order to net Lee in a Dempster trade. The fact that it has become relatively widely known that Dempster’s preference is to go to the Dodgers could hurt the Cubs’ leverage slightly.
  • Paul Sullivan suggests a pitcher that could be coming back to the Cubs is Stephen Fife, the 25-year-old who started well last night for the Dodgers. He’s not a terrifically impressive pitcher, who put up so-so numbers in the minors, mostly in the Red Sox organization. He could possibly be a serviceable back-end starter, but that’s not the kind of guy the Cubs should be targeting in these Dempster talks (his numbers suggest a Casey Coleman type). I’d have no problem with him as an inclusion, mind you, just not the centerpiece.
  • David Schoenfield says in a chat that Dempster’s value is right around a couple B/B+ prospects (which sounds right to me, for what it’s worth), but that Jacob Turner’s stock has dropped sufficiently that he could be in play in a Dempster deal (even with the stock drop, if the Tigers are willing to send Turner for Dempster, I scream with delight and jump on it).


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