It was a relatively quiet weekend on the Ryan Dempster trade front, which makes sense given (1) the dominance of the Matt Garza injury story, and (2) the fact that we’ve got another couple days before Dempster is due to start again. You can expect Dempster talk to heat up considerably leading up to that Wednesday afternoon game, if he isn’t already dealt by then. I said I would be very surprised if Dempster made it to his start last Friday (he did), and so I’d be silly to change my view now: I’d be very surprised if Dempster makes it to his start on Wednesday, subject to the last item below.
UPDATE: The Braves’ interest is so hot that multiple reports say a deal is close (might actually be done). You’re going to want to keep tabs on this post, and check for periodic updates at the bottom.
- Are the Dodgers genuinely cooling on Dempster or are they just tired of the Cubs’ lofty demands, and are stepping back from the table to try and pressure the Cubs to reduce their price? It feels like more of the latter, but it’s not like the Dodgers are going to fill in the blanks. Ken Rosenthal once again reports that the Dodgers have stepped back from the table (what I’ve now heard from a source is a bit of a hybrid: the Cubs are holding fast to their high asking price, and the Dodgers’ interest is cooling based on that price). He says that interest from not only the Dodgers has cooled, but also from the Nationals and Cardinals, again, based on the Cubs’ lofty asking price. The Braves are still very much involved, though, and are a particularly nice fit on a Dempster trade – NL team with a deep farm system of pitching talent, and a preference for giving up better prospects in order to save some money on the deal.
- (Speaking of the Braves, George Ofman reports that they’re “hot and heavy” on Dempster, as are the Nationals. Buster Olney also mentions the Braves as continuing interest in Dempster, and I, too, have heard the interest is strong, though they haven’t yet made a formal offer. David O’Brien, though, says the Braves are “closer” to finalizing a deal for a starting pitcher, which could be Dempster. Talk about the Red Sox has been awfully quiet since we learned late last week that they previously put in an offer for Dempster, though I’m told they’re still in it.)
- On the Cubs’ asking price for Dempster, one executive said this to Kevin Goldstein: “As a rental, they aren’t going to get tremendous value for him and that’s not an easy realization on their end.” To be fair, I doubt the issue is one of “realization” by resident geniuses Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Instead, I reckon it’s more an issue of the Cubs’ brass taking a gamble that they understand how the market will play out better than other front offices. In other words, I have a suspicion that they know their asking price on Ryan Dempster is quite steep.
- To that point: Given the market – thin on impact talent, pitching or otherwise – you can undersand, and maybe even applaud, the Cubs keeping their demands high. It worked for the Mets last year on Carlos Beltran, but it’s a risky game. If Dempster lays an egg on Wednesday, or worse, gets hurt, the Cubs might lose out not only on whatever they’re currently asking for, but also on whatever they could have gotten two weeks ago. Again, I’m not saying it’s the wrong strategy, but it sure is a risky one.
- A quote from Dodgers GM Ned Colletti in the Albuquerque Journal, which may or may not be about the Cubs and Ryan Dempster: “It’s the same thing every year, with a lot more discussion than actual trades. There are some teams trying to shed payroll, but most of them want two dollars and 50 cents on their dollar until the very last minute. It takes a lot of time and patience if you really want to help your club.”
- Despite all of this, Ken Davidoff hears from an exec that Dempster will still probably be the first big chip to fall on the trade market, followed by Francisco Liriano (who, by the way, pitches tonight against the White Sox – if you have no compunction about rooting against players, might I suggest you root for a total crapshow by Liriano?)
- The more I think about the dynamics of the trade market, the more I think the Cubs may not be the only reason a Ryan Dempster trade is taking so long. Despite the Cubs’ desire to move Dempster soon, I can’t help but wonder if the Phillies’ efforts to extend Cole Hamels (and thereby hold up a possible trade of him) are slowing things down. Imagine you’re the Dodgers, and you’ve wanted Ryan Dempster for a while. You’ve dickered with the Cubs for weeks, and thought you were close to a trade. But, it turns out that all those times the Cubs kept asking for Zach Lee, they were serious. So you start to wonder, if we’re going to give up our top prospect for a rental, might we rather give him – plus some more – up for a better rental? Like Cole Hamels? A rental who might want to sign with you in the offseason anyway? If your choices are seven bucks for Demptser or ten bucks for Hamels, don’t you prefer Hamels? The rub, of course, is the extension talks. So, you have to wait on Hamels. Which means you have to wait on Dempster. Which means the Cubs have to wait.
- UPDATE: Jon Heyman says the Braves are “close” to getting Dempster. You’re on high alert.
- UPDATE 2: Jerry Crasnick and Jayson Stark now also report that a deal is close.
- UPDATE 3: Mark Bowman, the Braves’ beat writer for MLB.com says it’s a done deal. He thinks Randall Delgado could be coming to the Cubs (holy crap), but he isn’t sure yet.