Something actually coming of this would be a shock, to put it mildly.

According to Carrie Muskat (whose reports always have to be regarded both closely (because of her close relationship with the Cubs) and cautiously (because of her close relationship with the Cubs)), the Cubs have been in contact with Ryan Dempster’s agent about a possible return to the Cubs.

I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself.

What once felt like a legitimate possibility – Dempster returning to the Cubs as a free agent in 2013 after a trade at some point in 2012 – seemed to wither into the ether this Summer when the Cubs had some difficulty cajoling Demspter into accepting the best possible trade they could get for him. (I won’t rehash that whole saga, but if you’re inclined to remember.) I had certainly moved on from even considering Dempster’s name among long lists of possibilities for the pitching-starved Cubs.

But Muskat’s report raises the possibility that a reunion could happen. There are so many immediate reactions …

(1) How would Dempster be received by the fans, if, by some craziness, a deal actually could be made? I tend to think we web-dwellers are a bit closer to things than the average fan, and we probably over-estimate the potential for backlash. I think, overall, a Dempster return would probably be greeted with open arms, depending on the deal.

(2) Speaking of which, Dempster will turn 36 in early 2013, and is probably going to try and land a contract to end his career. He’s coming off a very effective season, and could easily drum up a two or three year deal for decent dollars in this market. Is that really the kind of deal the Cubs are looking for? Sure, Dempster would offer reliable innings and some measure of veteran leadership, but he’s not likely to accept a one or two-year deal, and he’s not going to sign with the Cubs on the expectation that they’re just going to flip him again. You’d think Dempster would want to go somewhere that he can win soon, and you’d think that a team on the cusp of winning soon would easily be open to out-bidding a team like the Cubs.

(3) Would he – after everything – take a hometown discount? If he wants stability in terms of years, hell, maybe the Cubs really would be willing to offer him three years and the opportunity to finish his career in Chicago … if he signed for well below market value. I can’t say off-hand how realistic that is, but I do know that there was a time in the no-so-distant past when Dempster really did have love for both the Cubs and the city of Chicago.

I guess it can’t hurt to reach out, but I’d be shocked if anything came of this. Maybe there isn’t much here – after all, the Cubs are going to “contact” almost every free agent. There’s no real reason not to check in on these guys, particularly one who might have a reason to sign on an undervalued deal.

Thoughts? Reactions? Would you welcome him back on the “right” deal? On any deal? Do you wonder why so many people were annoyed with him in the first place? Are the Cubs just floating Dempster’s name to see what the reaction would be in the fan base? Do they even care what we think? Do you need more questions?

UPDATE: Doug Padilla confirms that there have been preliminary conversations, but also notes that the discussions, so far, have been “far from serious.” As expected.

  • TWC

    Yeah, the phone call went something like this:

    Theo/Jed: “Hey, Ryan Dempster’s agent, just so you know, there’s no possibility that Ryan returns to the Cubs next year.”

    And there you have it. Muskat’s tweet is entirely accurate, making the Cubs look like they’re reaching out to a (former) fan favorite.

    • Brett

      Seriously could be.

  • North Side Irish

    This could be awkward. Never quite sure how to handle the ex after a messy break up…

    • Carne Harris


  • CubsFanBob

    Must be a ploy to drive down the cost on some other FA SP targeting the Cubs or team targeting the cubs to trade them a SP. ……

  • Frank

    Dempster would actually be a great option, assuming that they have any intention of contending. We need at least two quality starting pitchers. Guys like Marcum, Jackson, and McCarthy would certainly be upgrades over what we have, but are not worth the contracts they’re likely to get due to the weak market. Dempster will likely command a similar amount of dollars per year, but due to his age will demand less in terms of years. Just don’t give him an NTC.

  • Cubbie Blues

    What are the chances they are talking about the opening in the booth? I’m not saying he would be my pick, but kicking the tires?

    • Brett

      Nah. Still got many productive years left (unless he wants to hang ’em up early).

      • Cubbie Blues

        I don’t think he’s hanging them up either, but I think your over stating his productive years a bit. I would probably replace many with a couple. Symantics I know, but at the end of a career it can mean millions.

        • Brett

          I was thinking two to three, tops, so I think we agree.

          (Also, “productive” doesn’t mean “good” – Just “able to hold a big league job.”)

          • Cubbie Blues

            Agreed. Last year was probably his last really good one and it will start to quickly curve sharply down from there (I know curves can’t be sharp).

    • ETS

      I think he would be great in the booth though. I don’t hate him, anyway.

      • Cyranojoe

        He *could* be pretty awesome in the booth. Can he get serious for long enough, though?

  • Todd

    I had heard he is going through a divorce?? If that is true and their are kids involved he may want to be near them (assuming the ex-wife and kids are in Chicago) . I made a lot of assumptions. But that is a possible scenario.

    I do think the vast majority of fans would welcome him back. Most are not ardent blog followers like us.

    • mak

      I think that’s a false rumor. I seem to recall that he has an ex-wife, but is remarried now?

  • someday…2015?

    Dempster a Cub again? Wait a minute last I checked Randall Delgado is still a Brave. Sorry Demp, unless you can magically bring the Cubs Delgado like you should have in the first place your most likely not wanted here on the north side.

    • Internet Random

      I agree, but most fans have shorter memories… if they paid attention in the first place.

  • TonyP


  • Eric S

    I for one would actually welcome Demp back to the Cubs. He was a colorful character who actually was a great pitcher when he had a manager and a pitching coach NOT throw him to the wolves. He got rocked by Quade and the even more inept Mark Riggins in 2010 and bounced back with Sveum and Bosio. Maybe a decent contract that benefits both the Cubs and Demp with either NO no trade clause or only a partial no trade clause would work.

    I would also like to see Demp come back to Chicago as a broadcaster because let’s face it he’s hilarious and would be fun to watch as a color guy on TV or radio. Maybe even a job on the MLB network could be in his future with Millar.

  • mak

    My thoughts would generally align with Brett and the others, but there is one scenario that we can’t discount: Dempster loves the Cubs/Chicago, doesn’t care if he gets less money/years/traded again. With the amount of money he’s made, he wants to keep his family here, already owns multiple properties, etc. Maybe he pulls a Kerry Wood and comes back on whatever terms the Cubs want?

    For most players, you wouldn’t expect that. But Demp is a smart guy and his priorities. You never know?

  • Rizzofanclub

    I would love it if Dempster returned on a 2 year contract. He already has his WS ring so maybe coming back to Chicago is what he wants. Maybe he would sign a very cheap deal and put in his contract that he won’t be traded. I know Theo wants pieces he can trade for prospects but at the end of the day they have to have someone take the mound every 5th day.

    • Cyranojoe

      Are you kidding? He doesn’t have a WS ring…

  • Dr. Percival Cox

    I don’t see how this could possibly backfire.

  • Can’t think of a cool name

    Okay, stupid question from me: Would he retains his 10 and 5 rights?

    • Dr. Percival Cox

      Nope. The 5 part needs to be 5 continuous years of service.

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        Thank you sir!

  • Spencer

    Just so long as they don’t offer him a no trade clause. I wonder what the record is for number of times someone has been traded by the same organization. He almost certainly wouldn’t make it though the entire 2013 season with the Cubs – and Dempster has to know that.

  • Ben (BG2383)

    99% of the fans have no clue who Randall Delgado is, or how things went down (I am guessing) I doubt anything comes of it, but I don’t see the harm in kicking the tires on it

  • a_mazz_ing

    I’m picturing Ryan Dempster playing “Baby come back, you can blame it all on me” on a boombox outside of Jed’s window crying “I don’t like my ERA over 5!!! The AL is too hard!!!”

  • Spoda17

    Dempster doesn’t have nice enough boobs to bring back… They always seem better after the “break-up”, especially when you’re desperate… Have a nice life Demp!

  • Chad

    I think of it like this:
    Dempster wants to be on a winner. Period.
    A lot of contenders are looking for pitching, but are they going to look at Dempster as the solution? Not sure.
    Is that contender necessarily going to contend? Possibly, but maybe not
    If Dempster signs with the cubs and continues to do well he could be great trade bait again, and who needs pitching at the deadline? Legitimate contnders.

    he signs with the cubs and has 4 months to figure out who’s in the race and if he pitches like he did last year he could go to a legitimate contender.

    Just a thought.

    • Chad

      I should say I think that this is about a .01% possibility, but it is a possibility (enter video clip of Dumb and Dumber “we landed on the moon”)

    • fortyonenorth

      “Dempster wants to be on a winner. Period.”

      Dempster wanted badly to stay on the Cubs last season. So, I have to wonder whether “winning” is of primary importance to him at this stage in his career.

    • Cyranojoe

      This actually could be great. He comes back, continues to pitch out of his mind, and we trade him for yet another prospect. And this time, with the understanding that he doesn’t get to waffle so damn much. 😉

      • terencemann

        Maybe this time the Delgado trade will work. lol

  • justinjabs

    I’d do it. Not getting my hopes up, but I’d be pleased if this happens.

  • Kubphan82

    I’d take him back, heck, he could even be our backup closer if Marmol is traded….

    Perhaps Craig Landis was contacted for Brett Myers?

  • Carne Harris

    Good call on Muskat. Company shill if ever there was one. Cubs being in contact with Demp’s agent could mean the agent called us. I can see this because he was a fan of playing here and after last year’s AL numbers, he probably wants to go back to the NL. Also, even if he doesn’t have any intention for playing with us again, it doesn’t hurt him to have the perception out there that the Cubs are interested, stoke the competition for his service and drive up his price a little. Cubs might even be knowingly doing this as a favor to him.

    I doubt it’s for real since he probably prefers to go to a competing team and one that isn’t likely to ship him off at the trade deadline again. If it is, though, one good thing from the Cubs standpoint is that if they sign him to a team friendly deal and then need to make room for other starting pitchers, he has a proven track record in the pen.

    • Cyranojoe

      You know she doesn’t work for the Cubs, right? She works for MLB. So durr, being a shill is her job, just not 100% for the Cubs. 😉

      • Carne Harris

        I just want to meet her so I can hold up Brett Jackson-Clayton Kershaw flashcards Uma-Oprah style.

  • Bails17

    It’s not Demps fault the Atlanta trade got leaked early! It it’s a good deal for the home team, I say bring em back!

    • Dr. Percival Cox

      Oh, good, we get to have this fight all over again. Thank you, Carrie Muskat.

      • TWC

        Well, the other arguments we have were kinda running dry…

  • cubsin

    Bring Dempster back, then trade him to Pittsburgh or Kansas City at the deadline.

  • ferrets_bueller

    His ten and five are gone now, right? So we can now trade him wherever the heck we want? Pull a maholm with him, then.

    • Internet Random

      He’s not giving a hometown discount without a bulletproof no-trade clause.

  • Jim

    Why not? Demp and Wood are those type of Cub ambassadors that will probably be involved in the organization well past their playing days. And why would he care if he could possibly be traded at the deadline? That would mean that he would be going to a contender for a chance at postseason. I would say that if a deal for around market or a little under can be done for 2 years and maybe an option with a limited no trade clause, it should be a win win situation for both sides.

    • TWC

      And why would he care if he could possibly be traded at the deadline? That would mean that he would be going to a contender for a chance at postseason.

      Jim, you miss out on the last week of this past July or something?

      • Dr. Percival Cox

        The NTC reads: “Ryan Dempster cannot be traded to any team without Ted Lilly in the starting rotation.”

        I wonder if he’s still trying to get on the Dodgers.

  • Riles24

    What about something along the lines of 3 yrs/$28 mil?

  • Tommy

    If he comes back on the cheap, why not, right?

  • cjdubbya

    Chris Volstad. Justin Germano. Brooks Raley. Chris Rusin. Randy Wells, Jason Berken. Casey Coleman. Each of them started at least once last season, and I think (scratch that, I know) I’d rather have Dempster than any of them in the rotation. Call me crazy. I know some of you will.

  • Coldneck

    He’d be a great option and could possible come at a discount. Sign me up for 2 years / $20M.

    I seriously doubt the front office holds him in contempt like the fans.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    Boo, hisss, let the bum go somewhere else.
    Not a class act!