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.