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I cannot stress firmly enough that this is just one report, based on one source, which might not ultimately be true. That said, it’s from Ken Rosenthal, who isn’t going to put his name out there on something like this unless it’s moderately solid.

And it’s not great news.

According to Rosenthal, for now, Ryan Dempster prefers to block the trade to the Atlanta Braves – which would have netted the Cubs Randall Delgado, a hell of a great return – while holding out hope that, in the next week, the Cubs can work out a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs and Dodgers previously stalemated on trade talks, presumably because of the Cubs’ insistence on the inclusion of top pitching prospect Zach Lee. If the Cubs are now forced to go back to the Dodgers, hat in hand, not only would they not get Lee, they wouldn’t get a value even coming close to Delgado.

In short, if true, this could be disastrous for the Cubs.

But that’s the rub: “if true.” Many other sources, including the Atlanta Braves, remain optimistic and hopeful that the Braves deal will still get done.

We don’t know the details for certain, but it had been reported that the Braves were second on Dempster’s list of preferred trade spots. The Dodgers were first.

Try to do your best not to rush to judgment here, though I know how this looks for Dempster. We don’t know what’s really going on yet.

UPDATE: Carrie Muskat reports that the claims that Dempster is holding things up because he was blindsided by the trade are not true. Instead, “Sources say he did know about the Braves offer, but was surprised at how public the deal became before he had made his decision.” Maybe he was surprised/angered that the deal became public because he knew he preferred to go to LA, and he didn’t want to look like the bad guy when he asked the Cubs to keep trying to get him to LA. Sounds like a pretty good theory to me.

UPDATE 2: Phil Rogers says folks in Atlanta are confused about Dempster’s reasons for not (yet) approving the deal. Rogers adds: “He prefers to be on the West Coast, Rosenthal suggests, because he has family in Vancouver and wants his three children to be close to relatives while he’s away. It’s unclear if Epstein can re-engage the Dodgers in trade talks. They backed away over the weekend, unwilling to meet the Cubs’ demands for a player they might have only for the rest of this season, and that led to the agreement with the Braves. This could become quite a mess, especially given how happy the Cubs were to have agreed to a deal bringing right-hander Randall Delgado from the Braves.”

UPDATE 3: Mark Bowman, who broke the original story about the trade, writes that Dempster has not yet officially rejected the trade, but that the Braves are losing some confidence that he’ll ultimately approve the deal. And then Bowman started writing about other Braves options, like Zack Greinke, and I got very sad. I also got sad when he mentioned that the Braves deal also included “at least” one more minor league player coming to the Cubs.

UPDATE 4: A source tells Jayson Stark that the status of Cubs/Braves/Dempster should be resolved “shortly,” and the Cubs have stayed in contact with the Dodgers and Braves throughout this process. Tim Brown adds that the Cubs anticipated this possibility, and stayed in touch with the Dodgers about Dempster (and Garza) yesterday.

UPDATE 5: Remember Kevin Goldstein’s comment yesterday that a source told him there is a 24-hour moratorium on 10/5 players approving these trades. So, if the trade was agreed to around this time yesterday, we might be hearing VERY soon.

UPDATE 6: Doug Padilla says Ryan Dempster has arrived in the Cubs’ clubhouse, and adds this: “Deal w Braves looks to be dying on the vine.”

UPDATE 7 (at 3:19pm CT): Dempster has finally spoken with the media, which quotes you can track from the beat guys on Twitter. He said he’s weighing his options, and plans on starting tomorrow for the Cubs. When asked if it’s 100% certain he starts tomorrow for the Cubs, he said that is his “mindset.” He wishes he had more options (translation: wishes a Dodgers deal was on the table), and he might take as much as a week to weigh the decision with his family. He wasn’t blindsided by the deal – the Cubs kept him informed. He was blindsided by the fact that the deal leaked to the media before he had a chance to decide. Dempster says he hasn’t made any decisions (in other words, he’s not formally blocking a trade to the Braves yet).

UPDATE 8 (at 3:22pm CT): Are the Cubs really going to let Dempster start tomorrow? I understand if Demp wants his time to think things over, but, since the world already knows he wants to go to the Dodgers, and only *might* go to the Braves, there is NOTHING to be gained by starting him tomorrow. There is only something to lose.

UPDATE 9 (at 3:26pm CT): This tweet from Paul Sullivan stings: “Demp: Decision ‘gets harder when something that wasn’t supposed to become public knowledge becomes public knowledge.’” And he’s right – if you don’t see why, just read the comments for all the anger and vitriol. Unrelatedly, and, as I suspected, Dempster is open to an extension, but isn’t asking for one as part of the process.

UPDATE 10 (at 3:30pm CT): I respect Dempster’s right to take his time making a decision, but the longer this drags out, it just hurts the Cubs in so many ways. Maybe the Braves decide to move on. Maybe teams want to wait on making a Garza offer until they know what’s happening with Dempster. Maybe the market shifts strongly downward as more teams start selling. Maybe Dempster gets hurt. This isn’t a worst case scenario quite yet, but this is just going horribly for the Cubs.

UPDATE 11 (at 3:43pm CT): Dempster can say he might take this decision up to the deadline, but that won’t happen – the Braves will pull the offer long before then, because they’ve got to figure out what they’re going to do. The Cubs probably can’t wait that long, either. It’s pretty obvious what’s going on here: the Cubs lined up a deal with the Braves after talks with the Dodgers fell through. It wasn’t final, and it wasn’t going to be announced. The Cubs were going to take it to Dempster, and Dempster was going to say, “well, can you try to get a deal to the Dodgers first?” And the Cubs would go to the Dodgers and try to beat the Delgado offer, or at least get a comparable deal (fat chance without Zach Lee – and fat chance on Zach Lee). But, since the story broke, Dempster and the Cubs were both put in a crappy spot. Dempster now looks like a bad guy, and the Cubs have no leverage with the Dodgers.

UPDATE 12 (at 3:54pm CT): Dave O’Brien (Atlanta Journal Constitution) says the Braves are looking at other options while they wait on Dempster. We knew that would happen. He adds that the deal is neither officially nor unofficially off the table quite yet, though.

UPDATE 13 (at 4:18pm CT): Just great. From Mark Bowman: “Dempster’s decision to wait has led a number of teams to call the Braves today about their top pitching prospects. Teams seemed to have gained interest once they saw Braves might be willing to go for it all this year by dealing one of these prospects.”

UPDATE 14 (at 4:39pm CT): Jon Heyman says the Cubs have, indeed, re-engaged the Dodgers in trade talks. I doubt they ever really stopped. For now, the only leverage the Cubs have with the Dodgers – assuming Dempster isn’t open to going to Atlanta while L.A. is still in the picture – is by saying, “you don’t step up your offer, and we’re fully prepared to keep him, make him a ‘qualifying offer’ ($12.5 million) after the season, and try and get a draft pick.”

UPDATE 15 (at 5:08pm CT): Braves’ GM Frank Wren made some comments to the media, including saying that it’s not a good thing that this deal got out (blame your own front office, dude), and the Braves still have scouts all over the country scouting other pitchers. They’d like to acquire a pitcher before the break. For now, the deal for Dempster is not dead, and is in Dempster’s hands. Wren added that, even if word of the deal hadn’t gotten out, Dempster was still going to need time to think it over (per my earlier explanation, I take that to mean: Dempster was going to need a little time to ask the Cubs to try and make one last push to deal him to the Dodgers).

UPDATE 16 (at 5:54pm CT): Interesting comments from Chipper Jones, via Dave O’Brien: “People have got to want to come here. But it’s not over. I’m sure that when you’ve been in one spot for a really long time, being traded is a big adjustment, and there’s more than just the business of baseball at hand. You’ve earned the right as a 10-and-5 guy to pick and choose where you go. And family becomes a big part of the decision-making process. The fact that we’re in the Southeast and we train in Florida, all that stuff is a factor. So, bottom line is Ryan is going to make the best decision for him and his family. And if decides that he doesn’t want to come here, then that’s just something that we’re going to have to deal with and move on. These trades just don’t happen overnight. There’s days and days and weeks and weeks of communication between the two sides to try and get something done by a specific deadline. We were led to believe that this could happen, which is why we put the effort into it. Now it seems like that might not be the case. It puts Frank in a tough spot, but that’s why they pay Frank the big bucks. He’s got to have Plan B through D. I’m sure that if Ryan decides to stay in Chicago or go someplace else, Frank will have something on the back burner.”

UPDATE 17 (at 7:52pm CT): You’ll have to forgive me. The last two days have been a bit frustrating for me (though I’m not complaining!), so I had to step away for a bit to play some tennis. I’m blacked out from tonight’s game anyway. In any event, Jon Morosi tweeted earlier that “Source says there are ways for Dodgers to get Ryan Dempster from Cubs without surrendering Zach Lee.” You’ll forgive me for hoping that isn’t true, but, without much leverage, it sure could be. Also, BN’er Jim is at the game tonight, and he says Dempster hasn’t been in the dugout. Anyone else seeing that? It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, and, at most, might mean only that Dempster has been having conversations that require him not to be in the dugout.

  • Frankum

    wow…if this is true i think we owe dempster a big boo session when we send him off

  • BD

    So much for wanting to help the Cubs… now what are we supposed to think about this?

    I understand he has earned the rights to do this- but to me it doesn’t look good after saying he wanted to help the organization get a good return, etc.

  • Cerambam

    Maybe it raises the braves return and then dempster is pressured even more to make the deal to help Cubs out

  • MichiganGoat

    Geez now I feel like my head needs to be buried in the sand

  • JulioZuleta

    I’m still hoping this isn’t true, but IF it is, Dempster definitely lost his statuas my favorite Cubs over the last few years. I really hope he’s better than this. It’s not like has has 3 years left on his contract, it’s 3 months.

    • hardtop

      “better than this?” He doesn’t even want to leave Chicago? He doesn’t owe the Cubs anything more than he’s given them. “taking one for the team” should not be an expectation for professional ball players. yeah, i like that attitude too, but it doesn’t exist in professional sports today. do you know how many current players would actually “take one for the team”? Jared weaver took a few less dollars, the proverbial hometown/team discount, and so have a handful of others, but its rare… the exception, not the rule, and you cant hold Dempster to that standard. Baseball players are about 2 things, in this order: 1. money 2. chance to win. He has earned the right to choose if he’ll go, and where his destination will be. Whether you think he should have that clause in his contract is immaterial: it is his right and you certainly cant blame someone for exercising their rights. i assume he’s basing his decision in part on what the return is for the Cubs, but Im sure a large part of his decision is about him exploiting an opportunity to get a ring and/or get paid. This is the absolute norm, except most players wouldnt even consider their old team in this situation. By comparison, Dempster is one on the best guys working in the game and this rumor, which i highly doubt, doesn’t change that.

      • JulioZuleta

        If it’s true, it changes everything about him. He said publicly a few weeks ago that he wants to help the team in any trade. It’s been known that his preferences were 1. LAD and 2. ATL. The Cubs exhausted efforts to send him to LA, when they wouldn’t approach this type of package, they moved on to option number 2.

      • Cyranojoe

        Amen, hardtop.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    that doesnt sound like the cub loving demp i know! or thought i knew? say it aint so!

  • Boogens

    I know it’s within his right to do so but my entire opinion of Dempster will change if he uses his leverage to block the trade to Atlanta. This is just another in a long line of sh** storms that follow the Cubs.

  • Oswego chris

    If this is true…Dempster was full of it a few weeks ago when he said he wanted to help the Cubs as much as possible…

  • Alec

    Honestly the whole thing makes him look bad. He said he would accept a trade and its a pretty good trade. Help the organization get better. And go be a vet leader on team with young pitchers along with tim hudson. Its two months. Sign with the dodger in the offseason. A lot of cubs fans are pissed right now and i think they should be!

  • Ben in Nebraska

    As some folks on twitter have pointed out, Dempster has made $69 million dollars from the Cubs and has a record 2 games over .500… I understand he has his rights and all, but I can cerainly understand and appreciate fans who are going to be real pissed off if we lose out on a guy like Delgado because we have to go back to LA with our tail between our legs begging for something with a sniff of talent.

    • AB

      If you’re using W/L (bad idea), Delgado is 23-40 in the minors

  • Rich

    Seriously..Why not help the Cubs, then the Braves for a few months, then go to LA next season with a 2 year deal.
    All this talk about where he is from and travel and family. Give me a break.

  • Deer

    What is in LA other than his BF Ted Lilly??

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Closer to his family in Vancouver.

      • TWC

        So he wants to be a 3 hr plane ride away vs. a 6.5 hr plane ride away? Seems pretty absurd, considering it’s only 2 months.

      • Tarzan Joe Wallis

        his kids and wife live in chicago. last time checked it’s less than 2 hours atlanta to chicago. 3.5 to LAX.

        let me the 1st to say: demp vetos trade. garza goes on DL. cubs get zippo for either trade chip.

        lesson for team theo; forget all the no trade clause crap JH handed out, NO cubs player can ever get 10-5 rights. dll-aram-demp; they don’t leave. making fucking tens of millions, be adored by the best fan base, enjoy day games like a regular joe with a job, eat dinner with the family, and then………..SHIT on the franchise when it comes time to pay them back.

        let’s trade for ichiro……..and then trade him……….at least he was MAN enough to help seattle.

        • Jack Weiland

          Ichiro didn’t really help Seattle, he mostly wanted a chance to win.

          • Tarzan Joe Wallis

            ummmmmmm.he could of said no. what the hell is your point? does it matter if he wanted to win……….in a backwards way it still helped. how is demp saying no helping? anything…………..really.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Extended family is in Vancouver. I didn’t justify it, I simply answered a question.

        • Scotti

          “lesson for team theo; forget all the no trade clause crap JH handed out”

          Theo would first have to forget the NTC’s that HE handed out. It is simply a myth that Hendry gave out more NTC’s than other GMs in similar situations.

          • Njriv

            Hendry didn’t give Demp a no-trade clause. If you are in the major leagues for 10 years and you spend 5 consecutive years with one team you automatically get a NTC.

            • Scotti

              Amen

        • Doug Dascenzo

          I thought Ichiro was the one that wanted to be traded and asked for it? That’s my understanding. Ichiro’s trade value was at it’s lowest so for the Mariners it was a courtesy to Ichiro because ultimately they received very little and they also paid cash to the Yankees.

      • JulioZuleta

        I hate when players use that garbage. How much of a difference does a 1 or 2 hour shorter flight make? How many times will he fly to Vancouver in season? My guess is 0.

      • Deer

        omg, that is absurd. How many times would he fly to Vancouver in 2 months DURING the season anyway? To see his parents?

    • Cyranojoe

      I believe his name is Matt Kemp.

      You telling me you think the Braves have a better shot at the WS than the Dodgers?

  • bt

    Let’s wait and see how this plays out. But if he does block the trade, can we stipulate that everyone understands he has the right to do it? No one is questioning that. The question is SHOULD he be doing it.

    But again, we should probably wait to see what happens before we jump all over a guy who has been pretty great for the Cubs for a while, and I don’t just mean on the mound.

    Man I really hope this isn’t true.

  • A_Mazz_ing

    Why do I have a feeling if he starts for the Cubs tomorrow some idiots will boo him?

    • Jack Weiland

      I’m not sure that makes them idiots. It’s one thing to use the rights granted to you by your contract, it’s another to say stuff for months that makes you look good, and then when push comes to shove, that stuff all turns out to be garbage.

      To me that’s a boo-able offense.

      • A_Mazz_ing

        He has a very sick daughter. I’m sure that’s coming into play as well. Trust me, I’m not thrilled by this news at all. I hope Rosenthal is wrong.

        • Jack Weiland

          He does have a sick daughter, which is way more important than baseball. Her illness is not new, though, and hasn’t changed a lot (to my knowledge) since he started saying he’d accept a trade to help the Cubs and go play for a winner.

          My problem is not him wanting to do what’s best for his family, it’s for making statements that apparently were not true this whole time.

          • BeyondFukudome

            Don’t see how being in LA rather than Atlanta makes any difference to his family situation.

            • Jack Weiland

              Nor do I, but I also don’t know Ryan Dempster’s day to day schedule.

      • Tarzan Joe Wallis

        we pay the salaries by showing up, wearing cubs shirts, eating overpriced food. damn right we can boo. here’s a tip for demp; not that the cubs would bring him back; but say no to this trade and i guarantee if there was even1 % chance; this makes it ZERO.

        • AB

          Please continue to boo

          When I see grown men boo at the ballpark, it makes me laugh

          • Jack Weiland

            Do you laugh when grown men cheer?

            • AB

              no

              This idea of the self-entitled fan (I paid for this so I can ) is a type of narcissism.

              • Jack Weiland

                Seeing something you like = cheering
                Seeing something you dislike = booing

                Narcissism has nothing to do with it. It’s entertainment. Also you must be a blast at parties.

                Granted, I never boo, but I have no problem with those that do as long as it’s for something real and not because the pitcher threw over to first. That is real, real crazy.

      • hardtop

        because he’s under no obligation to help this team other than with his pitching, which he has done. if you boo someone for not doing their job its one thing (although absurdly immature), but its theos jobs to make this team better through the aquisition and training of personel, not dempsters. (SP not VP)

        • Jack Weiland

          If he hadn’t been saying this whole time that he wanted to help make the Cubs better and play for a winner, I’d agree with you. Nobody made him say those things, although he certainly didn’t complain when everyone loved him for it.

          Now if he turns out to be full of it? Totally justified in booing that.

        • TWC

          I agree with you, HT, but he prolly shoulda kept his mouth shut on those several occasions where he discussed with the media his willingness to accept a trade to help the team, eh?

        • BeyondFukudome

          I’m under no obligation to like anybody who f’s over my team and I’ll boo anyone I damn well please.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    If this is true, I will truly become bitter towards dempster. I appreciate being a good cub but his time is done soon, and I am a bigger cubs fan then I am a dempster fan. Go to frickin Braves Demp!!

  • NCBrad

    Dempster is being a baby now. The Braves were on his list of teams (#2 behind the Dodgers) he would be willing to be traded to, and now Dempster changes his mind. If it was Dodgers or nothing then Dempster should of said that to begin with. Now if the Cubs can’t get a deal done for Dempster by the time he pitches tommorrow his value decreases because that is one less start he can make for the new team. As a pure rental, the Cubs need to get rid of Dempster ASAP because each passing day his value decreases.

    I realize Dempster earned 10-5 rights but for him to hold the Cubs hostage just so he can go be with Ted Lilly (who is on the 60 DL) is extremely selfish. Dempster has been more than professional this whole time regarding the possibility of being traded, but now when the time comes, Dempster won’t keep his word. For a guy who has been claimed to be Mr. Cub, and willing to do anything to help the organization, Dempster is being really immature.

  • cincycubfan

    I really hope this report is inaccurate. For how much I’ve respected Demp the last few years, it would all be gone if he did something like this to the Cubs.

  • Edward

    If this is true the Dodgers can really rape the Cubs knowing they are the only option he is open to.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Is that really the phrasing you wanted to use? smh

  • dudeski

    i’m feeling depressed right now

  • Dave

    So much for helping out the Cubs, if anything he is hindering them.

  • clark addison

    Let’s wait for confirmation before bashing Dempster.

  • CubsFanBob

    the problem now also is that with this info why would the Braves want him knowing he doesnt want to go there.

  • supergeek24

    I have a bad feeling he will start get rocked then pull a something in his ARM and then we get nothing

  • Jack Weiland

    My gut (based on nothing) tells me the Dodgers aren’t the only option here. That the Cubs can/will give him the ultimatum of Braves or you stick around Chicago losing for the next two months and he’ll cave.

    He doesn’t really want to be here either, mind you. He wants a shot at winning, and he wants to earn a shiny new contract with a team that’s going to be interested in signing him. Playing in Chicago for the rest of 2012 won’t help him towards either of those goals.

    • BeyondFukudome

      Amen to that. If he pulls this kind of BS, then keep him for the rest of the season, use him till his arm falls off, and then let him test free agency with some other team of dupes.

      • bbmoney

        Wow…that seems harsh. Kind of fan comment that I’m sure makes free agents just fall over themselves to want to play in chicago.

        • TWC

          Well. That’s certainly smug and self-righteous.

          • bbmoney

            I just think the arm falling off comment is a bit of an overraction. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

            • TWC

              Ha! I thought it was just par for the course for Cubs’ pitchers.

              • bbmoney

                haha, don’t remind me. I still die a little bit every time I think of 2003.

                • bbmoney

                  The good news is Dusty Baker has a whole other set of young arms to screw up in Cinci.

        • Ted

          The Cubs want to pay me $5 million more than anyone else? Well, I saw an anonymous comment on a fanblog once that seemed rude to Ryan Dempster, so I think I’ll settle for $500,000 from the Twins.

      • Scotti

        Uh, Dempster never asked to be traded. He’d like to stay just fine.

        • Jack Weiland

          Not asking for a trade and being fine not being traded are different things. He might be just fine with it, or it might sound horrible. Impossible to say.

          He has said he wants a chance to win, and he clearly wants a nice new contract at the end of the year, and staying in Chicago won’t further either of those causes very much.

          • Scotti

            If he wasn’t going to be fine staying here then he would have asked for a trade–it’s as simple as that. Regarding making money and winning–he’s free at the end of the year and he’ll sign a contract (money) with a winner if that is important to him.

  • RoughRiider

    Rush to Judgement.

  • Shawon O’Meter

    The Cubs Cult continues! Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and now Ryan Dempster…all guys exercising their right to stay with the Cubs by turning down proposed trades and effectively screwing their employer by holding out, minimizing returns. I suppose I can’t blame them, I’ve had a few employers I would have enjoyed sticking it to. I assume this happens to other teams, but it sure seems like the Cubs lead the league in this category…good grief!

  • Njriv

    I don’t get it, the Braves were #2 on his list, its not like they were on the bottom half.If he really wants to help the Cubs does he know the Braves can offer a better deal than the Dodgers? He might be a genius if this is a tactic to make the Braves give the Cubs more in return, and if not?…I don’t know what to think, but we will see soon enough I guess.

  • baldtaxguy

    If this is true…..he is reversing fields of his comments earlier in the season. Not that he shouldn’t be able to nix a deal to the American league, or to the Cardinals (hate them). But Atlanta vs. LA? Come on….

    If this is not true, he might consider refuting this story as well, especially if he ends up with Atlanta (teammates may ask…”why you no want to play with us?”).

  • spearman

    Well, Maybe he wants to give the Dodgers one last chance to up their offer(Lee).

    • Sinnycal

      Why would they up their offer now? They wouldn’t give up Lee when they were bidding against Atlanta. They certainly won’t now that they’re bidding against nobody.

      • spearman

        you missed the point. If a deal is all but done, it could be a going once , twice , & gone type senario.

        • Whiteflag

          With sinnycal…players don’t do the once, twice, & gone. FO do. If that was the cause I doubt he would be saying no to Atlanta. It would be more like Atlanta looks attractive, others teams will need to blow me away to make me rethink choosing the braves.

  • http://casualcubsfan.blogger.com hansman1982

    Well then, to that I say don’t bother trading him at this point unless the Dodgers come back to the Cubs and take our chances on Dempster declining the qualifying offer.

    I wouldn’t mind this one bit if he hadn’t come out and did verbal somersaults in June saying how much he wanted to help the Cubs get the best deal possible. Dempster, if this is true, you are now pissing down the leg of that statement and are turning down a fantastic trade.

    • Drew7

      I’m gonna see how this works out in the end, but my initial reaction is pretty much what you’re saying – If he wouldn’t have came out and said what he did a couple of months ago, it wouldn’t be a big deal at all, but I’d hate to see him go back on his word like that. It just doesn’t look good at all.

      If he does reject the trade, I see this as a terrible situation for the team. Do you settle for an inferior offer, or do you offer a 36 yr old SP ~$12.5mil next year? Let’s just hope the Atlanta deal works out…

      • Scotti

        There is simply no indication that he has gone back on his word. When he said that he wanted to help the Cubs he ALSO said that he wasn’t handing away his 10-5 rights. Now Theo gets to play the Dodgers and Braves off each other with Dempster refereeing. Either way we’re likely to get a good deal.

        • Jack Weiland

          This is fair.

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