Atlanta Braves’ GM Frank Wren has been talking to the media today about the now (almost certainly) failed trade involving Ryan Dempster and Randall Delgado. I referenced it in today’s earlier Ryan Dempster post, but thanks to the Sun-Times, we now have a more complete transcript of his comments. And it includes a bit of what we’ve been looking to hear for some time: what exactly happened over the last week?
From Wren, via the Sun-Times:
In his case, from my understanding – and I’m only getting it second hand from the Cubs – they had a meeting with him a couple weeks ago and laid it out, and the primary two suitors were us and the Dodgers. And he had positive things to say about both, and he had a slight preference to the Dodgers because of Ted Lilly. He and Ted Lilly are best of friends and he’d like to go play with his friend. And I think there were also some personal issues that suited better for him. And as it went down, from my understanding, the Cubs informed him in the last week that the Dodgers weren’t really as aggressive as we were and they thought the deal was going to go with us. I think he was given a heads up along the way. I think it may be the way it was presented as far as coming out in the media [Monday]. I think that was blindsiding, not that he necessarily didn’t know this was coming down.
Wren is politely trying to say that it was his understand that, prior to the Cubs engaging him in serious discussions about a Dempster trade, they had received an indication from Dempster that he would accept a trade to the Braves, assuming the Cubs couldn’t get a great offer from the Dodgers. But Dempster knew all along that the Cubs were seriously talking with the Braves, and that this moment could be coming down the pipeline.
Again, this doesn’t look great for Dempster. But, two strong cautions: (1) this is second-hand info, and we still don’t *really* know what was said between the Cubs’ front office and Dempster, and (2) there are still several days left before the Trade Deadline. While it’s fair to react and offer your thoughts, just keep in mind that a great deal can happen in the next few days.
Also, here’s a big thing to keep in mind: we still don’t know that things haven’t played out exactly as Dempster and the Cubs anticipated: get a deal lined up with the Braves, and then see if the Dodgers will top it. Maybe the plan was, if the Dodgers don’t top it, then Dempster accepts the deal to Atlanta. We’ll probably never know now, because of the timing of the media leak, and the story breaking on Monday. It forced Dempster to explain himself (and reveal an obvious strong preference for LA), and it forced the Braves to say publicly that they’re “moving on.”
For his part, after today’s game, Dempster told the media that he understand Wren can’t wait on him, even though Dempster is still weighing his options.
Let’s keep the comments civil. I’m not asking you to not speak your mind, I’m suggesting only that you be thoughtful before posting.
UPDATE (at 2:57pm CT): Interesting additional comments from Dempster after the game. From Patrick Mooney, quoting Dempster: “If that’s still an option down the road, then that’s something I might look at to make the best decision for me/my family.”
UPDATE 2 (at 3:01pm CT): Paul Sullivan has a nice write-up of Dempster’s comments after the game, which suggest that he plans to think things over today and tomorrow (his off-day, when he’ll probably see his family). So maybe we’ll find something more concrete out by the end of the day tomorrow. Or not. Because, you know, why would any of this go according to plan?
UPDATE 3 (at 3:11pm CT): Fair to speculate that Dempster doesn’t want to go to Atlanta, but doesn’t want to formally reject the trade, because he knows at that time, the Cubs really do lose all leverage with the Dodgers (which hurts him, because that’s where he wants to go – and the Cubs are just as likely to keep him at that point). So he says he’s still thinking about it to try and buy the Cubs (and himself) more time to try and work out a deal with the Dodgers. But if the Dodgers don’t step up by Friday, then what? Or if the Braves really do come forward and say, “the deal is totally and completely off the table no matter what,” then what?
UPDATE 4 (at 8:58pm CT): Dave Kaplan actually got a quote from Theo Epstein on all of this, but it’s a non-quote – he essentially said, we haven’t commented on Dempster, and we’re not going to comment now. As expected. And it’s the right thing to do, by the way. Virtually no good can come from saying anything right now.
UPDATE 5 (at 9:01pm CT): Tim Brown reports that the Cubs have told “Dempster suitors” that they’re willing to grant a window to negotiating an extension. I kind of expected this was already happening, but it’s nice to get confirmation. Here’s the thing: I’m not really sure Dempster is going to want to actually receive an extension from anyone but the Dodgers – but they might be willing to up their prospect offer ever-so-slightly if they know they’ve got him for a couple more years. But, let’s be clear: it’s already July 25. There aren’t a lot of days left to give a team a “window” to negotiate an extension. Also: I strongly doubt the Braves have an interest in extending Dempster, now that I think about it. They’ve got so much young pitching, and they’ve got a cheap ownership group. Yes, they have money coming off the books, but do they really want to commit tens of millions to a 36+ year-old Ryan Dempster?