Chicago Cubs: Who were the best free agent bargains in franchise history?

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Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /

Ryan Dempster‘s once-promising career was in danger of being cut short in 2003 year. In August of that year, he underwent Tommy John surgery and was later released by the Cincinnati Reds.

In January of 2004, the Cubs took a chance on Dempster and offered him a $300,000 contract, knowing that they may not get any innings out of him that season.

Dempster accepted the contract and returned early from surgery. He pitched well from the Cubs pen that season–well enough, in fact, that the Cubs made them their closer in 2005.

Dempster saved 75 games for the Cubs over the course of three seasons then switched to the starting rotation. As a starter, Dempster won 53 games over three and half seasons and was an All-Star and staff ace before he was traded to the Rangers in 2012–a deal that landed the Cubs Kyle Hendricks.

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