MLB Rumors: Washington Nationals Pursuing Ryan Dempster?

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has been mentioned in several MLB rumors in recent weeks.  The Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox, have all sniffed around the Cubs ace.  Now, the Washington Nationals are snooping around.

Faced with a quickly approaching innings limit on Stephen Strasburg and the possibility of the franchise’s first playoff appearance as the Washington Nationals, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is interested in adding another arm for the stretch run and the playoffs.  Dempster would make a ton of sense in that he shouldn’t cost a ton in terms of prospects unless a downright bidding war opens over him.  Right now it appears the Braves, and Tigers might be the Nationals stiffest competition when it comes to landing the 35 year-old right-hander.  The Dodgers, according to reports, have focused their attention on another Cubs pitcher, Matt Garza.

Dempster is having one of his finest ever seasons.  He has a 2.11 ERA, 5-4 record, has allowed only 76 hits in 98 innings, and 77 K’s.  His 1.05 WHIP is eighth in Major League Baseball and his wins above replacement (WAR) sits as the ninth best in MLB.  The Cubs are hoping to deal Dempster, who is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the year, by the end of the week, while his value is at its highest point.

Cubs GM Theo Epstein is not used to being a seller at the trade deadline and the thing that could be holding up a deal is the fact that Epstein is asking too much.  However, for the Nationals, Dempster would bring a veteran presence to a very young team and a young rotation that features 24 year-old Strasburg, 26 year-old Gio Gonzalez, 26 year-old Jordan Zimmermann, 28 year-old Edwin Jackson, and 26 year-old Ross Detwiler.  Adding Dempster would be a solid move, if the Nationals don’t have to give up a lot in return.

With the way the new CBA is set up, the Nationals would not receive draft picks in return for Dempster if he leaves via free agency at the end of the year so that lessens the amount the Cubs, who would get draft pick compensation if Dempster leaves, would receive in return.

If it makes sense for both sides, Dempster on the Nationals makes a ton of sense.  Now it is just up to Rizzo and Epstein to see if a deal can be struck.