Trade rumors involving Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster have cooled over the course of the past 24 hours. The Los Angeles Dodgers had an offer on the table for Dempster on Friday but after the Cubs opted to let Dempster take the mound against the St Louis Cardinals that night, it was a clear sign that the offer on the table from the Dodgers was not going to be accepted by the Cubs’ front office.
The Dodgers have since cooled on their interest in Dempster. That is not to say that the Dodgers do not remain interested in the 35 year old starting pitcher. The Dodgers still would like to acquire Dempster, but at this point, talks between the Cubs and Dodgers have reached a stalemate. The Cubs have set a firm stance that Dodgers top pitching prospect Zach Lee be included in the deal, while the Dodgers have been firm in their stance of not including Lee in a package for Dempster. The thing about Lee is that Dodgers apparently value him higher than what most scouts project for the Dodgers prospect. The current projection on Lee is that his ceiling will be as a fourth or fifth starter in a Major League rotation. Going under that knowledge, it would seem rather logical that the Cubs would want Lee to be included in a potential return for Dempster. The Dodgers farm system lacks talent to begin with, which is why Lee–who most scouts aren’t too high on–is considered to be their top prospect.
While the Dodgers have put their pursuit of Dempster on the back-burner, other teams have taken the Dodgers back-tracking as way to intensify their pursuit of Dempster. George Ofman of WBBM radio tweeted on Sunday that the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals are hot and heavy on Dempster. I followed up Ofman’s tweet by suggesting that Dempster would not make his scheduled start in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and Ofman replied by saying he wouldn’t go that far.
However, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports seem to infer that Atlanta Braves have emerged as the front-runner to land Dempster. Rosenthal and Morosi report that the Braves are second on Dempster’s list of preferred destinations, but the veteran pitcher does have a relationship with Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren. The reports also suggests that both the Cardinals and Nationals share the same reluctance as the Dodgers in giving up top prospects for Dempster, who is a free agent after the season.
The Braves pursuit of Dempster was believed to be closely connected to the performance of Jair Jurrjens on Sunday. Jurrjens struggled for the Braves on Sunday as the starting pitcher allowed 6 runs on 9 hits in 2.1 innings pitched. Jurrjens has struggled in his 10 starts for the Braves this season as he has a record of 3 and 4 to go with an ERA of 7.04. Unlike the Cardinals, Nationals and Dodgers, it would seem some what likely that Braves are willing to give up the prospects the Cubs are seeking for Dempster. This would fit with the Cubs philosophy of paying the majority of the salary remaining on Dempster’s contract in order to ensure a better quality of prospects. With the Cubs looking for pitching, the Braves are a perfect match in their attempt to trade Dempster.