Ryan Dempster’s trade saga is all about time — or lack thereof
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org July 29, 2012 10:48PM
Ryan Dempster ranks second in the majors with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts. Jim Mone~AP
Updated: August 31, 2012 6:18AM
As Ryan Dempster and the Cubs head toward the final countdown to the non-waiver trade deadline at 3 p.m. Tuesday, the starting pitcher still isn’t sure whether he’s headed east or west.
What’s certain is that Dempster plans to use every minute he needs between now and then to make the right decision for him and his family, regardless of those who might want to rush him.
Also certain is this: His reluctance to waive his hard-earned no-trade rights for a deal to the Atlanta Braves last week had nothing to do with the ‘‘personal issues’’ Braves general manager Frank Wren repeatedly mentioned when talking about the would-be trade.
Dempster and his wife, Jenny, filed for divorce just before the season started, and despite speculation, Dempster and others close to him insist that it has played no role in his greater desire to go to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
‘‘Who’s to say I was going to say no or yes to whatever team,’’ he 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.’’
Especially this place. His career was reborn in Chicago when former Cubs general manager Jim Hendry signed him coming off Tommy John surgery in 2004. His three children call Chicago home. The Dempster Family Foundation was formed here to help families with children born with DiGeorge Syndrome after daughter Riley, 3, was born with the chromosomal anomaly associated with a wide range of birth defects.
‘‘I built a home here. I’ve been here almost nine years,’’ Dempster said. ‘‘The thought of leaving, no matter where it is, is a tough thing.’’
The Dodgers are appealing because of a close friendship with pitcher and former Cubs teammate Ted Lilly. Los Angeles also is closer to the Dempsters’ other home in the Phoenix area. If a trade were to lead to a contract extension, the Dodgers train in Arizona (Dempster hasn’t requested an extension as part of a deal); the Braves train in Florida.
‘‘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.’’
Dempster wouldn’t go into detail about the 24-hour whirlwind last week that led to his rejection of the Braves deal (for pitcher Randall Delgado) at the 1 p.m. Tuesday deadline the Braves set. It set off a fan backlash against him in social-media circles.
But a source close to him suggested that the demand from the front office for a quick response boxed him into a corner. Dempster literally awoke from a nap last Monday to discover he ‘‘had been traded’’ via leaked information before being allowed to weigh in.
The fallout left Dempster — a respected team leader who deferred salary a year ago so the Cubs could add players — at least as irked as team president Theo Epstein was said to be, according to a source.
The Cubs’ front office has declined to comment on the subject, though last week a team official said that Dempster was kept in the loop and shouldn’t have been caught off-guard.
Industry sources say the Cubs’ failed efforts to acquire well-regarded pitching prospect Allen Webster from the Dodgers has left that process stalemated. It’s also unclear whether the Delgado option is completely dead. One National League source predicted that Dempster would wind up in Atlanta after all.
‘‘I have a couple more days to choose what I want to do,’’ he said.
Contributing: Kim Jans sen