It’s easy to say, and you’re going to hate to hear it, but it’s true once again: the odds that Ryan Dempster makes his next scheduled start for the Cubs – next week in Pittsburgh – are quite small. Of course, that was true of his start last night. Ask any pundit, and they’ll tell you it was surprising (a source suggested to me that the start was an unfortunate byproduct of various negotiations that had become complicated – I think we probably could have guessed that, given that common sense tells you the Cubs wouldn’t have started Dempster unless they felt they absolutely had to in order to ensure they get an appropriate return in trade).

Obviously, an acceptable offer simply wasn’t there by game time, however close the Cubs might have been to pulling the trigger on a variety of possible deals that were on the table. The Cubs played chicken with the offering teams, and, while they didn’t clearly win, at least they didn’t veer off the road in a fiery immolation. That is to say, Dempster’s start wasn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible, and he didn’t get hurt.

A trade is still highly likely to happen, but we might have to linger for a few more days before a resolution becomes clear. I strongly doubt this goes to the trade deadline, as the Cubs are not going to want the Dempster market to be competing with the Matt Garza market. When you have two commodities to sell, and largely the same buyer base, if you try to sell both commodities at the same time, you depress the price on both. Not a good idea.

As for the latest on the rumor front …

  • Bruce Levine dropped a number of bits in his latest piece, including the fact that the Red Sox have made an offer for Dempster (so, per my report earlier in the week, that would be your second team with an offer on the table, together with the Dodgers). Levine adds that the Nationals aren’t a great fit, the Braves might not want Dempster because they don’t expect he’ll re-sign after the season, and the Cubs/Cardinals aren’t likely to come together on a deal.
  • One big thing Bruce says, which we’ve suspected, but here’s your first sourced statement on it: “most teams expect Dempster to return to the Cubs as a free agent after this season.” It’s certainly more possible than most of these situations, but I’m still not sure the Cubs will want Dempster back, except maybe on the the most team-friendly deal ever.
  • NBC Chicago’s Peggy Kusinski says one possible reason for a hold up in a Dempster trade: Dempster could be leveraging his no-trade rights into an extension (she mentions two years, and the Dodgers, specifically). I hadn’t yet heard that, and it would surprise me a little (especially given that last bit from Levine), but an extension window would probably increase the Cubs’ return on a Dempster trade slightly. No, I don’t think it would net them Zach Lee, but it could be the difference between one decent prospect + one mediocre prospect and two decent prospects.
  • Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals are “trying hard” to get Dempster. He lists the Tigers and Braves as well, but says the Dodgers are still viewed as the favorite. George Ofman notes, however, that the Tigers may be more interested in Garza than in Dempster.
  • Ken Rosenthal, however, just this morning cites a source who tells him the Dodgers are “very unlikely” to get Dempster, preferring not to give up top prospects for a rental. I’m sure that’s true, but that could also be the kind of thing you leak to the media, to try and scare the Cubs into accepting a lesser deal.
  • Dale Sveum conceded yesterday that a trade could be close, acknowledging that he kept his phone on “loud” so that he could hear if he got a last minute call to pull Dempster.
  • As for Dempster, himself, he says he’s not too concerned about all of the rumors swirling because he knows it’s ultimately in his hands, given his no-trade rights. “I’m not naive,” Dempster said. “I realize everything that’s going on. I’m well aware [a trade] can happen at any minute. I’m not going to walk on eggshells or worry about that. I can only focus on what I can focus on, and that’s going out there today and trying to pitch and do my job. Now my focus is to work hard tomorrow and get ready five days from now. [But, in reference to the no-trade rights, i]t’s awesome being the hammer and not the nail.”
  • Former Cub and current Dodger Ted Lilly offers his seal of approval on a Dempster trade. “Obviously, he’s a very good pitcher,” Lilly said. “He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
  • Jay Jaffe offers a compelling argument that Ryan Dempster’s trade value isn’t as much as you might think it is.
  • Dan

    The Cubs will trade Dempster eventually, but it’s not going to be a great return. I guess I’ll be happy seeing two B prospects..

    • Brett

      To be fair, two B’s was where our expectations were when this business all started. If the Cubs can get a top 10 org guy, and another top 25ish, I don’t think that’s a bad return. I hope for me, but I won’t be upset with that.

      • Luke

        I wouldn’t be upset with that at all. I think the Cubs could get more if they wanted to, but they’d have to add more pieces to their end of the deal to make it happen.

      • Dan

        Just hoping for a guy at like Travis Wood’s caliber. He was a pretty high prospect and a bonus of having some major league experience.

    • ColoCubFan

      “Strange” how the trades that happen are the ones you don’t hear anything about, ala Toronto/Houston.

  • Patrick G

    Hoping its the Braves!

  • Austin

    Why can’t we just keep him this season, offer him a contract next year (with the agreement that he walks) and then we get a sandwich pick?

    • WGNstatic

      Why would Dempster do that? He presumably want to pitch for the Cubs, and, if he walked away from a qualifying offer he would cost the signing team (as I understand it) a first round pick, which would lower his value.

    • Quintz

      I guess they could do that. The question is why would they? They can get more than what a compensatory pick is worth by trading him now.

  • Jason “Thundermug”

    Would the Cubs get more for Maholm than for Dempster ? Since Maholm has an option

  • Dustin S

    Theo has said they aren’t going to dive into the free agent market much this offseason because he thinks they aren’t that close to competing. So I don’t at all see Dempster coming back unless it’s a Andre Dawson type deal. It seems like some press like to throw that in whenever any trade is made (same talk when Lilly was traded), but it’s pretty rare. The circumstances leading to him being traded probably aren’t going to change in a few months.

    With the Dodgers supposedly (back) out on Dempster now, Dempster starting last night, and also Dempster saying after the game that the Cubs haven’t even come to him with a team list yet…much less for approval…I am leaning towards thinking things are still a ways off. He will be traded and it can happen fast, it just looks a few days off yet from what is out there right now IMO.

    • hansman1982

      I see Dempster’s statement as posturing. Basically telling other teams the Cubs FO is so unimpressed they haven’t even bothered telling me about it.

      • willis

        Almost acting like a FO member himself, trying like hell to help the team out.

        • Brett

          This is an interesting theory.

        • Quintz

          ……maybe Depmster will turn down any offer that isn’t from St. Louis. Then he’ll not only intentionally pitch badly all year to help the Cubs out, but will set up a spy operation, reporting all info back to the Cubs, “to help them out”.

          While it’s nice that Dempster is willing to help the Cubs by waiving his no trade clause and wants them to get a nice return, let’s not forget he is still human and a fierce compettior. He still wants to win (wherever he is) and he still wants to get paid handsomely while doing so. He’s not going to sandbag his career to help out a team that doesn’t want him.

        • hansman1982

          I am sure he said this at the direction of the FO

  • Shawn H

    Jon Heyman now reports ts down to the Braves, Nationals and Cardinals.

  • cubs1967

    chicago is not an expansion team. time to offer demp a low end 2 yr extension; there aren’t any pitchers in the minors who will start next year and sign anibal sanchez next yr on a 3 yr deal. NO big money. keep garza and do the same. find a bat for 3rd base. win 85 games and be the 2nd wildcard. damn. it’s called competing. it’s called having only 38M committed to next year’s payroll. it’s called 103 yrs and not winning.
    try that theo.

    • Alec

      This dude seems a lil scorned…

      • farmerjon

        He cuts and pastes that a few times a week…

    • Njriv

      You should go to Wrigley and try to pick up an application for assistant GM or something, you seem to know what you are talking about.

    • Hawkeye

      I agree with just about everything you said. Some of our fans seem angry at the thought of signing anyone because we’re “rebuilding”. Fact is we lose over 100 games next year if we trade Dempster and Garza and don’t add a significant amount a major league talent (pitching) this offseason.

    • Martin

      That’s exactly what the Cubs have been doing for the last 20 years.

      “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result….”

  • Cubs Dude

    Running Dempster out there yesterday was just flat out stupid. There was nothing good that could have came from it. Stupid.

    • AB

      they should have put him a glass jar until he’s traded.

      • Cubs Dude

        I don’t care what they do with him, just don’t pitch him. When the only thing that matters this year is building for the future, sit him until a deal is done.

        • Scotti

          Remember, Dempster just came off the DL. If the Cubs don’t pitch him then teams will think he is hurt (and not be interested).

    • art

      so should the Cubs shut him down till some team trades for him?

      • Cubs Dude

        Sure. If I was the other team I’d prefer a well rested dude in his mid 30’s.

  • Abe Froman

    Why would Dempster agree to a low end 2 year extension?

  • fromthemitten

    If the Cubs trade him to the Cardinals and he doesn’t veto that trade (unless Miller or Taveras is involved) then I will lose all respect for him

    • someday…2015?

      Really? So if the Cubs got Martinez and a low level prospect you wouldn’t be happy? Martinez is rated higher then Miller in most rankings now.

    • gabriel

      I think if he goes to the Cardinals we will be thrilled with the return. It will almost certainly include Carlos Martinez, Shelby Miller, or Oscar Taveras (prob not OT cuz his stock is SOARING right now).

      Because they play in our division AND are our greatest rivals, Theo & Jed will make the birds pay dearly if they want Demp.

      • someday…2015?

        @gabriel your exactly right. Of the reported teams in on Demp we should all be rooting for the Cardinals to make a move. Like you said Miller, Tavarez, and Martinez. One of those guys would have to be included. If the Cubs got any one of those 3 I would be more then ecstatic.

        • Brett

          I wouldn’t get your hopes up on one of those three, at least not straight up for Dempster.

          • Martin

            I’d be doing cartwheels if they got Taveras for Garza and Dempster.

            • Brett

              That kid’s performance so far is pretty insane, eh?

              • Martin

                Goldstein was on him huge before the season, so I picked him up in a dynasty league–been following him closely all year. He’s (unfortunately for the Cubs) going to be massive.

    • Quintz

      So you want Dempster to evaluate the return on himself and veto accordingly? I can’t imagine how that conversation would go.

      “Sorry Theo, I know you think the Cards made a good offer, but I’m not going there unless you guys are getting Miller or Taveras in return”.

  • Serious Cubs Fan


    When you were talking about the Peggy Kusinski bullet and you say “decent prospect,” what caliber of player is “decent prospect” to you? Chris Reed type? Or Garret Gould type? Gould falls closer to the mediocre prospect to me.

    • Brett

      Yes. That. What you said.

  • johnbres2

    “common sense tells you the Cubs wouldn’t have started Dempster unless they felt they absolutely had to in order to ensure they get an appropriate return in trade.”

    Brett, could you explain this sentence? The Cubs felt they “had to” start Dempster “in order” to get a good return on the trade? I don’t understand how starting him last night had anything to do with getting a good return on a trade. His trade value wasn’t going to get higher by starting again. He already led the majors in ERA and had a 33 inning strak going. HIs value is/was at an all-time high. It seems, rather, that they started him simply because they don’t have a deal, and it doesn’t make sense to not start your best starter simply because he might be traded.

    • Brett

      It’s not about increasing his trade value through performance – it’s about not DECREASING his trade value by sitting him (you lose leverage that way, because you announce to the world: “we’re absolutely trading this guy”), and about trying to get the other team to blink (and offer more).

    • Scotti

      I’m not Brett but I play one on the Internet. The answer is that the Cubs lose leverage by not starting him because starting pitchers need to stay sharp to be effective. If you have him collecting dust then, as time passes, you are pressed into trading him or starting him. Starting him right off takes care of that issue (as well as any health concerns re. his recent DL trip).

  • Assman22

    Don’t believe the rumors about the Dodgers being out on Dempster, completely false according to a very reliable source…

    • someday…2015?

      Yeah that report sounded like a pure leverage move to me. All about trying to scare the Cubs FO into making a deal they don’t have to.

    • Cubs Dude

      Assman, you’re usually on top of this stuff. Do you know what the Dodgers offer was?

      • Assman22

        Dodgers initial offer was Gould + and Cubs countered with Zach Lee. Dodgers have since come up from that supposedly with a variety of differnt scenarios but the Cubs aren’t budging. Rubby De La Rosa, who’s about to return from TJ surgery, could be a wild card…

  • AD

    I would love to trade Garza within the division. Since the Cubs are unlikely to be super competitive next year I wouldn’t mind facing Garza three or four times a year in order to get a super package in return. For instance, Shelby Miller, Martinez, or Taveras.

  • AD

    Dempster to the Pirates for Alen Hanson and Clay Holmes would be a nice haul and pretty feasible, no?

    • Assman22

      Dempster won’t go to the Pirates. However, Maholm could and the Cubs are looking at Locke or Owens in return. Cubs also have a scout at Braves/Nats game today. Hoping it’s to scout Delgado…

  • Brett

    Carrie Muskat suggests that the hold-up between the Cubs and Dodgers is that the Cubs are holding steady in demanding Zach Lee.

    Unless the Cubs are willing to include Bryan LaHair, too – and assuming the Dodgers are still even interested in him – that seems like a … pretty lofty demand.

    • Cubs Dude

      I agree that seems really lofty Brett. I hope they don’t over play their hand.

      • Scotti

        I’d rather they stuck to their guns and trade him elsewhere than give into LA’s offer. These guys can’t look weak. Win-win or no deal. The Cubs have other offers. Even if they are weaker offers the team is dealing from a position of strength. No reason to have the industry think they can wait you out…

    • Martin

      I wouldn’t imagine they’d go that far if they didn’t have a defensible backup offer. It’s possible they are saying “If we can get Lee, great…but if not, we’re more comfortable with the Red Sox prospects that we drafted.”

      • Brett

        But then who’s slow-playing things? Like, are the Dodgers saying, “probably not Lee,” or are they saying “definitely not Lee.” Because if it’s the latter, and it’s just the two offers, the Cubs would go ahead and accept the Red Sox offer. If it’s played out like you suggest, the Cubs must believe they somehow have a shot at Lee.

        Obviously we know very little, so I’m making a lot of assumptions (like, for the purposes of this discussion, I’m assuming there are no other bidders – which we believe there ARE other bidders). (Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year?)

        • Martin

          That’s actually my sense of it as well (given our limited information). Somebody in the Cubs FO is getting the vibe that Lee could be made available if they worked something out. If the Cubs demanded Lee and the Dodgers said “no way whatsoever,” then the Cubs would have moved on (probably to the Red Sox, I’d imagine). But since they haven’t and we’ve read what seem to be clearly orchestrated leaks from the Dodgers, there’s something more to the story here.

          Then again, I could be full of it and my wild speculation could be way off. But it’s fun anyway.

    • Drew7

      What do you feel Dempster+LaHair gets you from LA? Lee+?

      • someday…2015?

        I would guess Reed and a PTBNL

        • Mike S

          Reed is going to be the next James Russell…I hope thats not what we get from LA

  • Adam

    Nationals could also use a Catcher with Ramos out for the year plus Flores having back issues (I’m watching the Braves – Nats right now, the guy can barely put his equipment on).

    Would a Soto/Dempster deal fetch us Alex Meyer, Matt Purke and other low level upside potential player, especially if we paid for both their salaries for the remainder of the season?

    • Brett

      Very much doubt the Cubs could get that much.

  • rich

    Hey Brett who is this Jay Jaffe goof. Dempster has pretty decent value in a trade. Sounds to like he’s trying to knock down his value!

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    The Dodgers are throwing a bunch of bs to so called insiders, like Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal that they are out on demp. That is the biggest load of sh$t I have ever read. Sounds like a leak from the dodgers to purposely try and scare the cubs into taking a lesser deal. Ned Colletti can go suck a fat one. How bout the dodgers step up the offer from the trash “Gould and Withrow” offer there throwing out.

    • Brett

      Gould/Withrow isn’t a *terrible* offer. I hope the Cubs can do better, but, all things consider, it really isn’t atrocious.

      • farmerjon

        Dempster, LaHair and Russell or Camp for Lee and Gould?

        • Brett

          Not bad.

          • farmerjon

            Could throw in campana for a ptbnl, campana could have real value to a playoff team

  • Lou Cub

    Reed and Gould it would have been a done deal…Ned’s like Tom Brennaman, just jilted that the Cubs fired him years ago…Maybe i’m crazy, but he tries to play hard ball constantly with hte if he want Demp, he’ll pay thru the nose

  • Stu

    If the Cubs are only going to get prospects that are not going to be front line stars in a couple of years, what is the point? The can sign the Maholms, Dejesus each year that don’t break the bank.

    I would only trade Dempster/Garza if you receive high ceiling prospects. The can resign Dempster to a club friendly contract next year and sign Garza to a long term extension since he is not having a monster year.

    Then draft well, develop well and they will be competitive in 2014-2015. Where am I wrong with this logic?

    • Scotti

      Add up eight to ten Maholms and DeJesuses and you’re looking at spending tens of millions per year over what cheaper, more controlable players would cost (and some of that would be sunk costs do to injury and/or general lack of production). That starts to add up and could take you out of the market for that key free agent that you do prioritize.

  • lou brock lives

    Ned Colletti is playing the Cubs – his target all along has been Garza. Lee & Reed are both available in that deal because Ned plans on signing Garza to a long term extension. You read it here first assman22.

    • Scotti

      Don’t get how anyone would think LA is playing the Cubs. Garza price is independant of Demster price. You don’t lowball a car salesman on one car to get a better price on a more expensive model. Each model has it’s own price (and there are plenty of prospective buyers).

      • spearman

        Well, you can, but he’ll just laugh at you!

  • lou brock lives

    Dodgers just finding out what the market was on Dempster to see who Cubs had targeted from their prospect list. Do not be surprised if Eovaldi & Lee & Reed are all included on deal for Garza if Garza & his people are willing to sign extension. Garza has told his reps he would like to get his family eventually back to California anyway.
    Cubs will have to throw in others on the above as well – possibly DeJesus or Vitters.

  • T Larson

    MLBN is reporting that the Dodgers are still very interested in Dempster.

  • Pingback: Lukewarm Stove: Garza, Dempster, Soriano, Hoyer | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Alec

    I think he goes to the braves for Anthony Varavo and Sean Gilmartin. Possibly a Jair Jurrgiens throw in. He could use a change of scenery. But honestly as much as i want to believe hes worth Teheran, Minor, or Delgado. Hes not.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I would have a high upside minor leaguer throw in than a Jair Jurrgiens throw in. Jurrgiens is completely overrated and will start to cost a lot more soon.

      • Alec

        Yeh so would i. But. Braves are fed up with him. Low risk high reward. 2 years ago he was an allstar. Maybe bosio can get him right. I mean geremano is probably not gonna be hear next year. Jurrgiens has potential hes just has to get the right mind set and you have a #2 or 3 starter if garza not traded. Or a # 2 if he is.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    I kind of hope we really bring back Ian Stewart next year. Not through arbitration but for maybe a 2 year $2 mil year. A team friendly deal. This guy gots pretty high upside. He plays a good 3rd base, he just had surgery to take care of his wrist issue (It may take another year from now for it to be fully healthy), if the wrist gets healthy= +plus bat speed = high batting average, possibly more pop in his bat with a healthy wrist, cheap, and possibly a good trade chip in the future, and keeps the seat warm Vitters or Baez in the future. I see no downside. And most important hes a BN fan lol

    • Jeff

      +1 for a Stewart comeback

    • Scotti

      A two-year deal wouldn’t be keeping the seat warm for Vitters, it could see Stewart sitting in Vitters’ lap. Even Baez might be ready by 2014. While $2M isn’t beeg money, you only make that move if you have some strong indication that he’s healthy AND that his health problems were THE problem.