But we can make some informed assumptions, based on the aggregate of information – both hard and speculative – available. The Cubs and Braves agreed to the framework of a deal yesterday, which would send Ryan Dempster and cash to the Braves for 22-year-old pitcher Randall Delgado. There is probably more to the deal than that, but that’s probably the gist. The Cubs were likely negotiating with the Braves on the tentative understanding from Dempster that he would accept a trade to the Braves, if the Cubs worked such a deal out (indeed, there were probably several such teams that the Cubs were negotiating with on this tentative understanding). The agreement, in retrospect, was obviously subject to, and pending, Dempster’s formal approval of the deal.
That agreement between the Cubs and Braves was leaked by someone on the Braves’ side to Mark Bowman, the beat writer for the Braves’ MLB.com site. Bowman, doing what any reasonable journalist would do, particularly in light of reports just 20 minutes before that the Cubs and Braves were “close” to a deal, broke the story that it was a done deal.
From there, multiple national baseball writers confirmed that the deal was done. The Chicago media was mostly silent, but Dave Kaplan – who later was the first reporter to throw up the brakes on the deal – concurred that he’d heard it was a done deal.
Why would they all do this?
The cynical among you would say that each was just piggybacking off of the initial Bowman report, citing their own “sources,” when, in reality, their “source” was Bowman. I’m not sure I believe that. I think these guys – the Heymans, the Starks, the Crasnicks, etc. – have a wide network of sources, and they probably each did have someone confirm to them that a deal was done. Of course, what we don’t know is where that source was getting his information. Hell, maybe his source was the Bowman report.
At any rate, the reports were out there, and Dempster, himself, had to refute them. From there, the Cubs – who’d been silent, probably because they knew they had yet to get official approval from Dempster on the deal – went in to massive spin control. They did this, probably, for at least two reasons: (1) if the deal fell through, the Cubs didn’t want future trade partners knowing what they were going to get for Dempster (i.e., what they would accept), and (2) the Cubs didn’t want to piss off Dempster, in case he thought maybe they weren’t keeping him in the loop (which they’d openly promised to do).
Dale Sveum took up the Cubs’ mantle, lodging a misguided attack on “the Twitter and the Facebook,” and claiming that the original report – which had, by then, landed on Cubs.com – was a “fabrication.” That’s a bit strong, but, given those two concerns above, and the managerial instinct to protect your players, you can understand the strong reaction. But Sveum said his message was basically coming from the top.
“I found out when I came in off the field from early [batting practice],” Sveum told reporters, when refuting the story. “Somebody said they saw it on the [Cubs] website, so I got on the website and saw it, and called the higher ups to make sure, and they’re like, no, nothing’s happening, I don’t know where that came from. That’s where we are with that.”
So, is there really nothing going on? Of course not. We’ve since heard enough credible reports to believe that, as I said, the deal was agreed to by the teams, and there is now the matter of getting Dempster’s approval. A source told Kevin Goldstein that trades involving players with 10/5 rights are subject to a 24-hour moratorium on announcements (so that the player in ensured of having at least 24 hours to think about the deal), so this entire waiting process may have been preordained all along. We might just be waiting for the inevitable.
After all, would the Cubs really negotiate the specifics of a deal (so specifically, in fact, that the Braves’ side believed they had a done deal) if they didn’t think Dempster would approve the trade?
Then again, maybe Dempster really is upset about how things played out, and maybe he doesn’t want to go to Atlanta. I don’t believe the reports that Dempster was trying to leverage his way into an extension, nor do I believe the theory that it’s the Braves who are demanding an extension (their side leaked the deal – there would be nothing to leak if they knew they were waiting to find out about an extension). But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things, about which we don’t know, that are holding up the deal. It’s times like this that we realize, for as much as we think we know about the inner workings of the front office in this information age, we usually know very little.
In sum, where do things really stand? We don’t know. And we wait. I think it’s still more likely than not that the deal gets done, based on the parameters reported yesterday. News could come down at any time, but things will certainly shake out before Dempster’s scheduled start tomorrow at 11:35am CT.