The Cubs were in a great position when the month of July started. Starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and Paul Maholm were all pitching to the top of their capabilities and the Cubs were in a line to receive a bundle of prospects for each of their top three starting pitchers.
Then, things began to change last Friday. Throughout the day last Friday, there were reports that the Cubs were closing in on a trade that would have sent Dempster to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers have been Dempster’s preferred location, though, at some point the veteran listed the Atlanta Braves as a close second. For whatever reason talks broke down between the Cubs and Dodgers last Friday which led to the Cubs starting Dempster on Friday, and the Dodgers cooling their pursuit of Dempster.
Then came Saturday, and Saturday was another stressing day for the Cubs. After tossing three shutout innings, Garza was removed in his start against the Cardinals on Saturday due right triceps cramping. While the cramping has subsided for Garza, the starting pitcher has already been scratched for the upcoming weekend series against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field due to the imminent birth of his child. Meaning the earliest that Garza will pitch next for the Cubs could be on Monday. One day before the trade deadline.
Then there was Monday and the drama that ensued. On Monday, the Cubs and Braves reached an agreement on a trade that would send Dempster to Atlanta in exchange for Randall Delgado. The problem was that someone within Atlanta’s front office jumped the gun on the deal being done. While it was true that both the Braves and Cubs had reached an agreement, the deal was not done because of the fact that Dempster, via his 10-5 rights, never approved the deal. Dempster, who reportedly felt blindsided by the news out of Atlanta that the deal was done, took a day the think over the trade and essentially indicated to reporters on Tuesday that the only way he will accept a trade is if it is to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That decision by Dempster has been harshly criticized by most of the Cubs fan base. And the decision deserves to be criticized. More specifically, the 10-5 rule should be criticized not Dempster. Given that Dempster has spent at least 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, and 5 with the Cubs, the pitcher now has the ability to block any trade that he is a part of. As Dempster did with the agreed upon trade with the Atlanta Braves. The bone I have to pick with the 10-5 rule is that it essentially forces the team to lose control of their own player. Dempster is signed to a contract by the Chicago Cubs, meaning the Cubs should have control over his rights. But control is taken out of the Cubs hand because of the 10-5 rule, and with that, the Cubs lost any and all leverage they had in trying to deal Dempster. Because now the Dodgers know that the only way Dempster is accepting a trade is if it is to Los Angeles.
The Dodgers have once again intensified their pursuit of Dempster, and it would seem likely that the Cubs and Dodgers will come to an agreement before next Tuesday. Though, as a way to get leverage back, the Cubs could be leaking information that they are resigned to holding onto Dempster for the remainder of the season in an effort to try for a draft pick once the season concludes. There have also been reports on Wednesday night that indicate that the Cubs are allowing teams interested in Dempster to have a window to try and work out an extension for the pitcher.
The impressive thing throughout all this–the Demspter drama and Garza injury–is that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have remained silent on all of this. In this day and age of social media reporting, it is nice to admire a front office run by Epstein that doesn’t respond to every rumor, or feel the need to respond when there is a plethora of trades around Major League baseball and the Cubs are still in a holding patter. Epstein and Hoyer have been down this road before. I remain confident, and optimistic in what the Cubs front office will do before the trade deadline.