Name: Ryan Dempster
Tale of the tape: Right-handed pitcher; Age, height, weight—35-years-old; 6’2”; 215 lbs.
Contract status: $14 million for 2012; free agent at the end of the season; has 10 and 5 status (10 years MLB, 5 years with the same team) giving him the right to veto any trade.
Would the Cubs trade him?
They’re going to trade him.
Dempster likes the Cubs and they like him, but the team is atrocious and needs multiple pieces. Conceivably they could trade him and re-sign him to a 2-3 year deal after the season. With most players that’s something that’s said to assuage the angry fans for trading one of their favorites and the club has no intention nor desire to bring the player back. Not so with Dempster. He’s a solid bet to return to the Cubs after the season.
What would they want for him?
Theo Epstein is in fire-sale mode within the confines of competing in 2013. With the money available to him and the free hand he’s been given, his options are completely open.
The Cubs need a centerfielder, a middle infielder who can hit and they could use some arms either in the starting rotation or bullpen.
They’re going to have to pay all of Dempster’s salary to get any decent prospects. The only way they’re going to get better than decent prospects is if teams get desperate. I don’t see it happening with Dempster.
Which teams would pursue him?
The Yankees were said to be looking at Dempster and Matt Garza (I’ll talk about Garza in a later posting), but their starting pitching has come together nicely and they don’t really need him. In years past the Yankees might’ve feigned interest in a pitcher like Dempster to raise the price for the Red Sox who are definitely pursuing him. They won’t say it publicly, but the Yankees no longer see the Red Sox as a threat.
The Orioles, Blue Jays (Dempster’s Canadian), Tigers, Indians, White Sox, Phillies, Marlins, Brewers and Dodgers could all use him.
Dempster’s the type of pitcher that Tigers’ manager Jim Leyland likes (you have to rip the ball out of his hand); the Dodgers are going to be heavy buyers this summer.
What would Dempster provide to his new team?
A club thinking they’re getting a pitcher who’ll be able to start games 1 or 2 in the playoffs is making a mistake similar to the one Lou Piniella made in the NLDS of 2008. The Cubs came rampaging into the playoffs as a favorite to make it to the World Series and it was Dempster’s horrific game 1 start that set the tone for the series as the Dodgers bounced them in 3 straight games.
Dempster was too amped up for the start, had no command and walked 7. Then he left a fat pitch over the plate for James Loney to tattoo for a grand slam.
For the regular season though, he’d be a good pickup for any team who needs an innings-eater and leader in the clubhouse.
What will happen.
Dempter’s going to get traded and I think, if he’s willing to switch leagues, he winds up in the American League with either the Indians or Tigers. Then he’s going to turn around and re-sign with the Cubs after the season.