Are you ready to be twisted/turned/made cynical once again?
Bruce Levine reports that Ryan Dempster is perfectly willing to consider a deal to a team *other* than the Los Angeles Dodgers, if the Cubs simple present him with it before Tuesday’s Trade Deadline. From Levine:
The Los Angeles Dodgers are not the only team Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster would accept a trade to, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Dempster will consider a number of teams, including the Atlanta Braves and Dodgers, if the Cubs come to him with a deal in place, the source said.
“He has not said that he wouldn’t go to Atlanta or anywhere else for that matter,” the source said. “He wants to take his time and has earned the right to wait on approving a deal having his 10-5 rights.”
So, there are a number of reactions to this that I’d expect from folks.
The first is probably something like, “RRRAAAAA THEN WHY DIDN’T YOU ACCEPT THE BRAVES DEAL ON MONDAY!?!?”
The second is probably something like, “Baa, this is just another cheap attempt to help the Cubs get some leverage with the Dodgers.”
The third is probably something like, “Baa, this is just Dempster trying to save face in Chicago.”
I’m not saying all of those reactions are wrong, but I think something in the middle of all three of them is probably where the truth lies. Yes, this “revelation” certainly makes Dempster look slightly better, and definitely could help the Cubs in their discussions with the Dodgers. And, yes, it does make you a little annoyed that Dempster didn’t just green light the Atlanta deal on Monday.
But at least it’s something. We came into the day without any hope. This is something.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: it really could be the case that Dempster has been willing to go other places all along, but simply wanted to give the Cubs as much time as possible to extract the best possible offer from the Dodgers before deciding what to do. That stance would be simultaneously beneficial to him in his efforts to get to LA, and harmful to him – on the one hand, it gives the Cubs leverage in discussions with LA, but on the other hand it makes it possible for the Cubs to once again bring him a better offer from another team. Further, if the Dodgers don’t really want Dempster all that much – as has been reported – this “revelation” doesn’t really help bring Dempster to LA at all.
In other words, I’m not so sure this is just a self-serving leak by the Dempster camp.
This doesn’t explain why Dempster apparently initially told the Cubs – and Braves players – that he was willing to to go Atlanta in the Randall Delgado deal, and then changed his mind. Maybe he made a mistake, and realized how badly he wanted to go to LA. Maybe he decided he would only go somewhere else if it was at the last possible minute, and no decent deal was forthcoming from LA. Maybe that’s how this will play out.
For now, it sure would be nice to believe that Dempster simply made a mistake in being overly amenable to an Atlanta trade, changed his mind – temporarily – and then the Braves, understandably, pulled the offer. From there, Dempster has been pushing the Cubs to get a deal done with LA, but, if they can’t, he’ll be willing to go elsewhere. And that’s not just Atlanta, mind you – it could be a number of teams looking for a pitcher.
Maybe I’m just being hopeful.
UPDATE (at 5:18pm CT): Jayson Stark says that a deal between the Cubs and Dodgers isn’t dead, but, from the Dodgers’ perspective, they may be waiting to see if the price on Josh Johnson drops (the price is said to be extreme, by the way). Buster Olney reiterates, though, that things are at a stalemate between the Cubs and Dodgers, with each side knowing full well where the other stands, and neither moving right now.
UPDATE 2 (at 5:27pm CT): Dave Kaplan files a new report, which squares with everything Levine reported above – I suspect the Cubs/Dempster were working hard to get this story out there. Here’s the most important point, which is essentially a restatement of my “hope” from the original post: “Sources also confirmed to me today that Dempster has not told Cubs management that he will only play for the Los Angeles Dodgers. His position appears to be that he will consider any option that sends him to a team with a chance to win a World Series. The sticking point with the original deal with Atlanta was the fact that by making the trade early in the week it eliminated any chance for LA to increase its offer and Dempster wanted time to give the Dodgers a chance to increase their proposal so that he could play out west and with Ted Lilly.” Again, it doesn’t absolve the apparent flip-flop, but it’s a best-case scenario right now. Once again, I want to point out: say what you will about Kap, but I’ve now been told by two sources that Kap’s sources on this the last two days (despite apparent conflicts) must be good ones. Is that meta enough for you? In other words, I trust my sources, and they’re saying Kap knows what he’s talking about right now. So there you go.
UPDATE 3 (at 6:31pm CT): Zack Greinke was just traded to the Angels, which is almost certainly good news for the Cubs. Among other reasons, the Braves (and possibly the Dodgers) were interested in Greinke, so that’s one more option off the table for them. Full reaction and implications to the Greinke deal here.
UPDATE 4 (at 7:16pm CT): A couple Braves’ beat writers have checked in with thoughts on the Greinke deal. Dave O’Brien says the price on starters may have just gone up for the Braves. Mark Bowman says the Braves will have to continue to evaluate their options, including Dempster. He adds, though, that the team is trying to be creative, and might go after Wade Davis from the Rays.
UPDATE 5 (at 7:51pm CT): Jerry Crasnick reports that the Cubs and Dodgers are talking about a Dempster/Josh Lindblom swap, which should trouble you. Lindblom is 25-year-old reliever with decent numbers for the Dodgers this year. But, like, he’s a middle reliever. A good one, maybe, but a middle reliever. Crasnick adds that he doesn’t know what other pieces would be involved in such a deal. Let’s hope the answer is “many much better ones.”
UPDATE 6 (at 8:09pm CT): Phil Rogers talks about how badly the Braves want Ryan Dempster now that Zack Greinke is off the market, which is all well and good, but it doesn’t much matter if Dempster is going to keep waiting on LA, and the Cubs are seriously entertaining the possibility of taking less from LA just to get the deal done. Let’s hope they aren’t, and that Dempster will indeed reconsider.
UPDATE 7 (at 8:12pm CT): You can’t make this stuff up. A “second source” tells Crasnick that Lindblom as part of a package to the Cubs is “completely unfounded.” Dude, ask around before you tweet, maybe?