Is it time for those immortal words, “DOWN THE STRETCH THEY COME!” when it comes to the possible trade of Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster? His first choice, the Los Angeles Dodgers, have cooled off a bit on trading for him, which opens the door for Dempster’s second choice, the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves have always been in the mix for Dempster, though it was thought that he was not Atlanta’s primary target. However, Atlanta’s intensified pursuit of Dempster is believed to be relatively connected to Jair Jurrjens‘ poor performance on Sunday against the division leading Washington Nationals. Jurrjens allowed 6 runs on 9 hits in 2.1 innings pitched. and has generally struggled in his 10 starts for the Braves this season, carrying a 3-4 record, and a 7.04 ERA.
Dempster, who has 10 years of service, including the last five with the same team, has the right to veto any deal presented. He could ask for a contract extension from his new team in exchange for waiving his no-trade rights, which, in dealing with certain teams, could complicate the process. It’s this fact that has most likely caused the Dodgers and Nationals to back away and show some reluctance to offer top prospects in a trade for a pitcher who will become a free-agent after this season.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports seem to agree that the Braves have emerged as the front-runner to land Dempster. Both have reported that the Braves are second on Dempster’s list of preferred teams, but that his relationship with Braves’ manager Fredi Gonzalez and general manager Frank Wren make it a very close second to Los Angeles.
The Braves may have an upper hand in negotiations for Dempster because, unlike the Nationals and Dodgers, Atlanta is more likely to give up the prospects the Cubs are seeking for Dempster. The Cubs have stated they are willing to pay the majority of Dempster’s remaining contract in order to ensure better prospects in a trade, and since the Cubs are looking for young pitching, the Braves match up perfectly in this scenario.