Moving Ryan Dempster isn’t so easy for Cubs
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com July 26, 2012 9:42PM
Ryan Dempster would love to go to the Dodgers, and Los Angeles remains willing to deal. | Gene J. Puskar~AP
The facts: 1:20 p.m., CSN, 720-AM.
The pitchers: Travis Wood (4-5, 4.33 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (12-4, 3.10).
The rest of the series
Saturday: 12:05 p.m., CSN, 720-AM. Jeff Samardzija (7-8, 4.25) vs. Joe Kelly (1-3, 2.78).
Sunday: 1:20 p.m., Ch. 9, 720-AM. Paul Maholm (9-6, 3.88) vs. Adam Wainwright (8-10, 4.31).
Updated: August 28, 2012 6:22AM
All that talk about the Cubs’ position of strength in a seller’s market a few weeks ago has been buried in a flurry of moves and market changes — along with one big smackdown by Ryan Dempster.
The Cubs still expect to make trades for younger players, but moving the one guy the new front office is most intent on trading — Dempster — by Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline is forcing more work and ingenuity. Various reports suggest efforts ranging from the difficult (multiteam trade) to the absurd (keeping him and making a $12.3 million qualifying contract offer to assure an extra draft pick if he declines).
Dempster has full no-trade rights as a player with 10 years of service time, five with his current team.
And sources say the Los Angeles Dodgers — the only team he seems sure of approving a trade to — remained willing to deal Thursday, albeit with little incentive to raise their offer to meet the Cubs’ asking price after Dempster rejected a trade this week that would’ve sent him to the Atlanta Braves.
In fact, the Dodgers, who already sent two pitchers to the Miami Marlins in the Hanley Ramirez/Randy Choate trade, still like Matt Garza as a longer-term investment despite his elbow issues, according to two sources.
With other business besides Dempster left on their deadline agenda, the Dodgers certainly didn’t seem in the mood to match the quality of the Braves’ offer earlier in the week (Randall Delgado).
The Cubs reportedly had been interested in high-ranking Dodgers pitching prospect Zach Lee before those talks broke down a week ago and more recently asked about Class AA prospect Allen Webster.
Although several reports suggest the Dodgers are out of the Zack Greinke sweepstakes, one source says they plan to scout him Sunday if he’s still with the Milwaukee Brewers. This would indicate that they’re in no hurry to push hard for Dempster, who won’t make his next start any earlier than Monday.
Even with the Marlins’ trade of Anibal Sanchez to the Detroit Tigers, the Houston Astros’ trade of Wandy Rodriguez to the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels taken off the market by a massive contract extension, more pitchers seem to be on the market than even 10 days ago.
The Marlins are said to be willing to trade Ricky Nolasco and possibly Josh Johnson, the Brewers’ Randy Wolf is available (though expensive) along with Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano, the Astros’ fire sale presumably includes Bud Norris and the Tampa Bay Rays have dangled James Shields
Cubs assistant general manager Randy Bush said the expanding market of available starting pitchers in the last week doesn’t surprise him because of a need by contenders.
‘‘There’s huge need for pitching, and there’s a lot of pitchers that have been lost this year to the DL,’’ he said. ‘‘So you can understand why clubs are using every avenue they can to fill those needs.’’
The Cubs won’t comment on their own specific efforts or how the changing landscape affects them.
But it doesn’t make the next few days any easier, even with three valuable starting pitchers for sale at the right price, including Paul Maholm, who has won five consecutive starts.
For the guys in the clubhouse, it’s about keeping their heads down and staying on task until they hear otherwise.
‘‘Right now, we just focus on what we’ve got, and everybody’s in the rotation and going to pitch,’’ said manager Dale Sveum, who expects to find out Friday whether Garza’s elbow is well enough to start Monday.
‘‘And all the hitters are still here. We can’t worry about [trade efforts]. That’s part of the game.’’