Statistically, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster is the best starting pitcher that is on the trade market this season. Dempster has made 13 starts for the Cubs this season while pitching to a record of 4 and 3 and an ERA of 1.99.
However, other teams may not value Dempster as the best starting pitcher on the market. Though, that is largely dependent on the directions that both the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers take for the July 31 trade deadline. If both the Phillies and Brewers enter the selling mode, which is a likely assumption, that means that pitchers Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke would also be on the trade market. While Dempster has had a better season than Hamels and Greinke, there is a sense that Dempster would be a fall back option to whatever team tries to trade for either Hamels or Greinke.
However, there is also a belief going around the baseball industry that Dempster will be the first starting pitcher to be traded prior to the July 31 trade deadline. Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago mentioned during the “Waddle and Silvy” show on ESPN Radio 1000 on Tuesday that if Dempster continues his string of quality starts on Saturday, then it is likely that starting pitcher will be moved within the next week.
The next question becomes where will Dempster be traded to. Dempster has 1o-5 rights meaning he can veto any trade that he is a part of. Though, Dempster has already told the Cubs that he would approve any trade as a long as it is a trade that benefits the Cubs’ organization. With that said, the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown the most interest in the veteran starting pitcher. A trade to the Dodgers would reunite Dempster with his friend Ted Lilly, however, the Dodgers are not the only team to have an interest in Dempster.
Levine reported on Tuesday that ten teams plan on scouting Dempster when he makes his start against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday. Among those teams, the Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Cleveland Indians have expressed the most interest in Dempster. While both Braves and Indians are capable of offering a better package of prospects for Dempster, the Dodgers are still widely-believed to be the front-runners to land Dempster.
Dempster has approximately $7 million left on his contract before he becomes a free agent at the conclusion of the season, and the Cubs figure to eat a portion of that salary in order to ensure a better package of prospects. Not only are the Cubs looking for top pitching prospects that can have an impact for the long-term future, but, Levine also confirmed that the Cubs have put a high priority on the third base position. That could mean a couple of things. For one, it means that the organization does not view Josh Vitters as the third baseman of the future. The other thing it means is that Ian Stewart may not return to the Cubs next season.
While the Red Sox have not been closely connected to Dempster, there was some Red Sox rumors that could be connected to the Cubs. Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is returning from the disabled list on Friday, and the Red Sox need to make room for Ellsbury on the 25 man roster. In order to do so, it was reported that the Red Sox would likely trade outfielder Ryan Sweeney. Sweeney is a 27 year old left handed outfielder that is hitting .283/.319/.400 this season with 0 home runs and 0 stolen bases. On the surface, Sweeney appears to be a player that Cubs would not have an interest in. But, the Cubs apparently have some degree of interest in Sweeney. The Red Sox are interested in Cubs’ starting pitcher Matt Garza, and Sweeney is believed to be one of the players that would be involved in a Red Sox package if they were to trade for Garza. Of course, Sweeney would not be the center-piece of the package. Think more like when the Cubs threw in outfielder Sam Fuld in the package that got them Garza from the Tampa Bay Rays.