[I'm not saying I coined "Ryan Dempster Trade Saga," but I see it a lot of places after I started calling it that.]
Ryan Dempster is still expected to be dealt before tomorrow’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. But, unfortunately, the return on that deal is expected to be less than the-deal-that-wasn’t, last Monday’s Cubs/Braves deal that would have landed the Cubs 22-year-old pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
Dempster has received a considerable bit of grief for blocking that deal, and we still don’t know why the Cubs proceeded so aggressively on it without a firm belief that Dempster would accept the trade. It remains a possibility – and some sources have suggested it is the case – that Dempster told both the Cubs and the Braves that he would accept such a trade, before changing his mind at the last minute.
But it also remains a possibility that Dempster, although willing to consider a deal to the Braves, was not ready to accept such a trade before the Cubs had conclusively exhausted talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dempster’s preferred destination.
Gordon Wittenmyer offers yet another source who suggests that’s precisely the case, and that Dempster was just as upset as Theo Epstein about how the process played out last week. The Braves understandably put a timetable on the deal – 1pm on Tuesday, apparently – and pulled their offer when Dempster wasn’t ready to accept. It’s fair at this point to wonder whether the Cubs and Braves had the deal in place long before Monday, and the Braves leaked word of the deal to put pressure on Dempster to make a decision.
Wittenmyer also scored a few salient quotes from Dempster about the process.
‘‘Who’s to say I was going to say no or yes to whatever team,’’ Dempster told the Sun-Times Sunday. ‘‘All I said was that I just, at that time, needed to think about everything. Whether you’re single, married, divorced, kids, no kids, you’ve got to think about a lot of things if you’re going to [consider a decision] to leave.
‘‘I built a home here. I’ve been here almost nine years. The thought of leaving, no matter where it is, is a tough thing.’’
[In a roundabout way, Dempster was rejecting whispers that his decision not to go to Atlanta had to do with his ongoing divorce, a subject I've avoided discussing here, mostly because I'm not convinced it's all that relevant. And, it's one of those subjects that can veer the conversation off course.]
Dempster added that he does have a preference for a team that trains in Arizona – like the Dodgers – over one who trains in Florida – like the Braves.
‘‘I built a home in Arizona primarily because we have spring training there,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘I enjoy training more during the winter and things like that, so that changes a lot of elements. So there’s a lot of things I had to think about. And I’m still trying to sort through those things.’’
Ultimately, some sources say Dempster still winds up in Atlanta. Talks with the Dodgers are at a stalemate right now, according to some, with the Cubs having asked for 22-year-old pitching prospect Allen Webster, and the Dodgers having said, “pfft, we don’t want Dempster that bad, and you guys don’t have much of a choice here.”
Of course, Tim Brown just now reports that the Cubs and Dodgers are still working on a Dempster deal, and Ken Rosenthal has a source who tells him the two sides are also still discussing Alfonso Soriano as part of the deal, so what do we really know, eh?
I still think Dempster is going to go, and I still think it’s going to be to one of the Dodgers or Braves. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see another team or two jump into the mix by tomorrow.