Now that the baseball season has officially begun the interleague portion of its season and the All-Star break is only a month away, the trade whispers surrounding several players are getting a little louder from all 30 major league teams.
The most recently talked about guy is Chicago Cubs starter, Ryan Dempster, who may be leaving town – or maybe not.
Upon entering this season, the Cubs organization believed Garza was their ace and the pitcher to build around during this rebuilding phase. But, instead, Dempster has proven he is the ace of this club, posting a 2.31 ERA despite a 2-3 record, which is primarily due to the fact the Cubs offense stinks and until his last three starts they hadn’t given him any kind of run support whatsoever.
The only thing that can concern and make GM’s hesitate on making a move for Dempster is his age. At 35, Dempster might be throwing his last season or two in the big leagues. But that’s motivation enough. The guy has never won a championship – and let’s face it, he won’t with the Cubs anytime soon – so a trade to a new contender will just keep the adrenaline going to get that ring.
If I’m a GM and sitting near the top of my respective division, I’m calling Theo Epstein up right now and making him an offer for Dempster. This is the big leagues and to win games – especially in late August in September – you need your pitchers to carry you into and throughout the post-season.
Secondly, there is an additional wildcard being implemented for this year’s post-season, meaning more teams believe they are contenders. Why bother competing with an additional three or five teams for a guy and waste more money, when you could make a splash now and really shake the baseball world? Plus, if you add a guy like Dempster now, that’s an additional five or more starts before the deadline in which you can replace your No. 5 guy and get a few more wins to separate yourself from the rest of pack.
Because Dempster is old, but still having a great season, he’d be a good fit almost anywhere. He can help any team achieve both their and his goal of winning a championship, and if he’s traded to a younger club, he’s a veteran that can motivate the youngsters.
There are at least 10 teams that could make a serious push for Dempster, because as we all know in baseball, you can never have enough quality pitchers.
New York Yankees: The Yankees are always buyers during trade talks so it’s not a surprise they’d want a piece of Dempster. After CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ rotation is pretty bad. Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes are not guys you have start in the post-season. Their playoff rotation could be built around three starters; Sabathia, Dempster and Hiroki Kuroda. But Dempster won’t be a Yankee.
Tampa Bay Rays: With the fifth-best ERA in all of baseball, it’s hard to imagine the Rays making a serious bid. But as we saw last year, anyone can make a run into the post-season, and to do that, you need veteran pitching. There will be talk, but no move on the Rays part.
Baltimore Orioles: This would be a good move by the O’s. There is nothing stellar after the top two in their rotation. If the O’s believe they can grab one of the two wildcards, they would do well to trade for Dempster. If you’re the Cubs, you get draft picks or highly scouted prospects from the O’s farm system. That or some cash to help eat some of these big contracts.
Chicago White Sox: Cubs fans won’t like this, but there is a good chance Dempster wouldn’t even have to leave town. The Sox pitching is awful after Jake Peavy and Chris Sale. The Sox could really run the table in the already confusing AL Central.
Detroit Tigers: Who else pitches for the Tigers besides Justin Verlander? The Tigers should trade for Dempster now because they aren’t going anywhere with Rick Porcello, Max Scherzer or that 4.29 team ERA, which is 23rd in baseball. The only thing they’ll be doing this summer is watching the Sox climb further away.
Texas Rangers: Expect the Rangers to make an offer. Owner Nolan Ryan was one of the best pitchers in the game and he already improved his pitching by signing Yu Darvish after C.J. Wilson left. With that offense and Dempster in the rotation, the Rangers would be favorites to win the Series when the playoffs open up.
LA Angels: With the amount of talent the Angels have in the rotation, it’s doubtful they’ll make a move for the rotation. But depending where they are in the final week of July, Epstein could hear his phone ringing.
LA Dodgers: Again, hard to fathom them making a move leading the division and having the second-best pitching in the bigs. Pending a major injury to a starter in the next six-weeks, don’t expect either LA team to be buyers.
San Francisco Giants: The Giants are one of those teams that are interesting. The Dodgers seem to be running away with the division, so that leaves the two wildcard spots open. Tim Lincecum has been awful this year, but luckily for the Giants, the rest of their rotation has been superb. Dempster would be a nice asset to have to give these starters an extra day of rest and give them wins at the same time.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates have the third-best ERA in baseball at 3.25, but a veteran in the clubhouse and a likeable guy like Dempster can really help this team. They’re still a young team and having Dempster around could really mature these guys into winners. It feels weird talking about the Pirates as winners. Again, get draft picks or money in return.
Cincinnati Reds: If the Reds are going to compete with the Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals for a division or the rest of the NL for a wildcard, they’ll need pitching. After Johnny Cueto, the Reds’ rotation is terrible. They can’t and won’t go anywhere. Dempster, who knows Dusty Baker from his managerial time in Chicago, could get the Reds those few extra wins they need to stay in a division race.
Miami Marlins: How about another Chicagoan in a Marlins uniform? It wouldn’t be hard to see, either. The Philadelphia Phillies are hard to rule out, especially with their big guns still out with injuries. But if the Marlins lock Dempster now, they can get a few extra wins that could separate them a little and be the difference-maker in the final week of September.
Washington Nationals: Dempster would be a great fit here. Yes, they have the best ERA in baseball, but it all comes back to the fact you can never have enough quality pitchers. The Nats won’t make an offer, though, because they don’t need another good pitcher, they need offense desperately if they are going to win the division.
When all is said and done, Dempster will be starting for the Rangers. It’s the best fit for him and the team as he can improve that rotation even more and he will have the No. 1 offense in baseball that will actually give him run support in each of his starts. With Dempster in Texas, it’s hard to see any other team having a shot at a championship season.
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