Obsessive Ryan Dempster Trade Watch: Cubs’ Asking Price Probably Super High, and Braves Interest Ticking Up (UPDATE: Yes, Deal About Done)

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.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

43 responses to “Obsessive Ryan Dempster Trade Watch: Cubs’ Asking Price Probably Super High, and Braves Interest Ticking Up (UPDATE: Yes, Deal About Done)”

  1. Matt R.

    Always start high, that way you can move down.

  2. d.

    Here we go!

  3. North Side Irish

    Braves are a perfect fit for what the Cubs are looking to do. They have a strong farm system, especially pitching, and aren’t looking to take on money. Cubs can pick up more of Dempster’s remaining salary and ask for better prospects. I’m sure that was part of the sticking point with the Dodgers…they would rather pick up the salary and give up less prospects.

  4. Brandon - AA Correspondent

    Zach Lee was terrible this weekend in Chattanooga. Just sayin’. In talking with a Lookouts long time season ticket holder….they appear to be equally as frustrated by Zach Lee as we are with Junior Lake. They hype machine on both of these guys has created a false market. ABORT.

    1. Cub Style

      As prospects, Junior Lake is no where near Zach Lee’s class.

  5. @cubsfantroy

    He will be gone by his next start. I didn’t think that the last time, but I feel it now. I wouldn’t be surprised if Garza is gone by the time his next start rolls around.

  6. Sinnycal

    Definitely like the Braves for Dempster. Their pitching depth means we don’t need to either a) convince them to give up their top pitching prospect or b) settle for garbage. There’s an attractive middle ground that some of the discussed systems don’t necessarily offer. And they’re certainly more likely to sweeten the return for cash considerations than a team like the Dodgers would be.

  7. kubphan82

    @jaysonst #Braves and Cubs working on Ryan Dempster deal, sources say. Trade could be completed this afternoon.

    @jcrasnick #cubs and #braves closing in on deal that would send Ryan Dempster to Atlanta, source confirms

    @JonHeymanCBS: dempster would provide huge immediate impact for #braves, once finalized. hearing it is close. #cubs

    1. North Side Irish

      John Arguello ‏@CubsDen
      Wow! RT @mlbbowman: Confirmed Dempster coming to Braves. Still trying to confirm details but Delgado could be on the other end of the deal

      One more…

      1. Toby

        If it ends up being Delgado and others then that’s good value for Demp.

  8. Adam1680

    What prospects do you like from the Braves? I just read their midseason top 10 prospects and didn’t see anything that really wow’d me. Their expected #1 prospect is down with TJ surgery and most of the write-ups on the pitchers in the top 10 said ceilings were expected to be back of the rotation pitchers. Just curious what you guys know.

  9. Andrew

    any word on who/what the Cubs could see in return? I’m over eager, I realize this but trade rumors always excite me lol

  10. d.

    @mlbbowman (braves guy)

    Confirmed Ryan Dempster is coming to the Braves. Still trying to confirm details but Delgado could be on the other end of the deal

  11. Cub Style

    MLB ‏@MLB

    BREAKING: @Cubs dealing RHP Ryan Dempster to @Braves, confirms @mlbbowman.

  12. Dylan

    What do you know about Delgado?

  13. Serious Cubs Fan

    Jon Heyman tweets that the pitcher the Braves are about to acquire is indeed Ryan Dempster.

  14. @cubsfantroy

    Well, sounds like it is all but a done deal. This makes me sad and happy all in one. I feel like I am off of my meds. lol

  15. Serious Cubs Fan

    Who the Braves giving us!?!?!?!?!?!??????

  16. donnie kessinger

    Great work as usual Brett!

  17. Ash

    Dude, if we pulled Delgado on a Dempster trade, I’m gonna pop a brewski right here in my office.

  18. Master Dan

    Delgado would be nice. He was the 3rd overall prospect in the Braves organization in 2012. He’s only 22 and doesn’t become a free agent till he’s 28. Nice pick up! :)

  19. Jonathan

    I don’t really understand the we won’t trade prospects for a rental mentality. I wouldike somebody to look at the value of prospects versus the value of increased ticket sales and other revenue streams that come with successful seasons and playoff runs. I am not advocating empying the farm system but teams have windows of opportunity to win and you have to take that chance if you believe a player can put you over the top.

    1. Jack Weiland

      Maybe I missed something … who is saying they wouldn’t trade prospects for established ML players?

      1. Jonathan

        Not the Braves but teams keep saying they won’t trade prospects for rental players because of the new CBA. The other thing teams are saying is that they only will trade for controllable players. And while I agree controllable players are nice I think getting the best player is important

  20. Rich

    Braves beat writer confirmed Dempster to Braves, but does not mention the return for the Cubs.

  21. Other JP

    I want Delgado…but mentally prepping for a “wha? prospct. Just to be safe mentally ;-). If we get Delgado, I will $hit myself.

  22. Serious Cubs Fan

    EHH i really dont know if I’m a fan of Randall Delgado. I know hes only 22, but 4.42 era, arbitration clock already started, but still potential. Idk guys I’m really iffy on delgado. I want guys who will be cheap in 2015 when were goin to compete again. That would not knock my socks off at all, but its a decent return i guess.

    1. Serious Cubs Fan

      Actually idk, I take wat i just said back, I just need someone talk me into how this guy will be good. Idk how I would feel about a delgado return.

      1. Serious Cubs Fan

        What kind of stuff does Delgado have? Ace stuff? decent #1 stuff? #2? #3? Back end of rotation stuff?

        1. Jack Weiland

          Ceiling = #2, most likely #3. Which is really very good. #1 stuff for a rental player would be absurd.

        2. gocatsgo2003

          AND I’M GOING TO MAKE CONSECUTIVE POSTS FOR NO REASON!

          The guy isn’t arbitration-eligible until 2015, can become a free agent in 2018, and he’s already been serviceable at the MLB level as a 22 year old. There’s plenty of time left to (i) buy out arbitration years and (ii) move him along the system at a pace that’s a little more appropriate, as he seems to have been rushed along by the Braves.

          Most people have him pegged as a future #2 or #3 at worst:

          Delgado projects to be a front-end starter in the Major Leagues and could see plenty of time in there in 2012 after getting a cup of coffee with the Braves in 2011. Armed with a solid fastball, slider and changeup, Delgado will likely need some more time pitching at Gwinnett to refine his mechanics, but he has the potential to be a stalwart in Atlanta for years to come.

      2. Jack Weiland

        You realize his clock being started means he’ll still be very cheap in 2015, right? He’s a ML 2/3, significant upside, very close to ML ready (if not already there). It would be an incredible return for a rental player where the buyer gets no compensation pick.

    2. kubphan82

      I wouldn’t be sad if it’s not Delgado, and not mad if it is… I like JR Graham from the Braves, I know he’s outside the top 10 in their organization but I kind of hoped the Cubs would take JRG and a young guy like Mauricio Cabrera or Luis Merejo…

  23. Other JP

    Serious – compare his age and numbers versus any of our guys and you’ll be happy with Delgado. And I can not wait for Brett/Luke to tell us why e should be excited…..based on more advance stuff.

  24. North Side Irish

    David Kaplan ‏@thekapman
    Ryan Dempster traded to Atlanta. Sources tell me Cubs made great deal to land young pitching. I am working on names. Back at u all shortly.

  25. kubphan82

    Another awesome perspective to the deal… The Garza bidders would all still be available. It’s a good thing Dempster doesn’t get traded to the Tigers/RSox, et al, because that would thin out potential suitors driving down Garza’s price.

  26. cubs82

    RT @keithlaw Filed to ESPN – if the Dempster trade is completed, Randall Delgado is in it, as well as something to balance the money

  27. cubs82

    RT @Kevin_Goldstein Ok, Delgado is in the trade. You should be thrilled Cubs fan. Just thrille

  28. cubs82

    RT @JimBowdenESPNxm Cubs not resting continue trade discussions w/ LAD on deal that would send Matt Garza for package including Zach Lee

  29. Cubs777

    Theo/Jed are doing a great job. I’ve been a Cub fan for about 30 years. This is the first time I’ve seen a lot of these changes that are being made. The Cubs could turn into one of those organizations I’ve been jealous of all these years. So much wasted time and crappy leadership. I’ll take Delgado for Dempster any day. If Hendry were here, he’d be keeping Demp & trading Jeff Baker or something.

  30. Matt Emigh

    wow really like this trade wish the cubs would have kicked in some more cash to get one of either Arodys Vizcaino, Brandon Drury, or Carlos Perez. But Delgado is still a good return