There are MLB Rumors regarding Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster that he will be dealt by the end of the week, with the Los Angeles Dodgers his likely destination. Of course, the Dodgers aren’t the only suitor for Dempster. The Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles all have had MLB Rumors circulating in regards to Ryan Dempster. Obviously, a pitcher that leads the league in ERA would be a great acquisition for a contending team, but I’m not so sure I would mortgage my future for a pitcher like Ryan Dempster.
First off, let’s look at the present. As of right now, Ryan Dempster leads the world in ERA at 1.86. Good, great, grand, wonderful, but why is he leading the league in ERA? Dempster’s .242 BABIP is the lowest in the National League as is his 85.5 LOB%. Two very telling signs that Dempster is due to regress very soon. The mean for BABIP is around .300 and the mean for LOB% is around 70%. Granted, Dempster isn’t going to crash and burn that hard to reach those numbers, but Dempster suitors need to realize that these numbers probably aren’t going to continue. Ergo, if I am in the market for Ryan Dempster, I am not trading major prospects for a guy who is 35 years old, just came off the DL, and has a rabbit’s foot in his back pocket. And if you want an example of a previous situation that is similar to Dempster’s, look no further than Jarrod Washburn from 2009.
Jarrod Washburn was traded from the Seattle Mariners to the Detroit Tigers in 2009, a move that the Tigers thought was going to put them over the top in the American League Central. After all, they were acquiring a pitcher who had a 2.96 ERA in 17 starts. Most of dinosaur writers who cover the MLB thought the Tigers made a great deal, but us SABR nerds knew it was inevitable that Washburn was going to decline. Washburn had a 5.23 ERA in the second half, and the Detroit Tigers lost a one-game playoff to the Minnesota Twins.
Now, I’m not saying Ryan Dempster is Jarrod Washburn, because that would be ludicrous. But trading for a pitcher who has little to no chance to continue his good fortune is not a smart move. There’s no reason to trade valuable prospects for a guy that’s going to give you some bad starts. Teams need to look at Ryan Dempster for the guy they are getting for the final two and a half months, not the guy he’s been thus far.
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