The one pitcher that many had pegged as being the most certain to be traded in 2012 was finally moved, with four minutes and 53 seconds remaining until the trade deadline. Ryan Dempster is now a member of the Texas Rangers. In return, the Chicago Cubs receive two Single-A players: third baseman Christian Villanueva and pitcher Kyle Hendricks.
Dempster has had an outstanding year for the Cubs, posting a 2.25 ERA over 104 innings. His K/9 is down compared to recent years, though, sitting at 7.2. From 2008-2011, Dempster has pitched at least 200 innings for the Cubs. Were it not for the season-ending injury to Colby Lewis, this trade would not have made much sense for the Rangers. Now Dempster fills a hole for Texas, and will become an important piece of the starting rotation for the rest of the season. Dempster had been in the league for ten years, and spent the last five with the Cubs, so that grants him 10/5 rights and he could have blocked a trade to any team. His top choice was rumored to be the Dodgers, and it wasn’t until just a few hours before he was traded that it was announced he would not block a trade to Texas. It seems relevant to note that decision came about 12 hours after the Rangers acquired former Cubs catcher Geovany Soto last night.
In return, the Cubs are getting two prospects that would be ranked in the top 20 in the Texas system, which means that they’re very good. The Cubs are in the early stages of a much needed re-building process, and getting two prospects like Villanueva and Hendricks is a good return for a free-agent-to-be like Dempster. From the Rangers’ perspective, they are trading solid prospects, but they are doing so from the positions of their farm system that they have the most depth. It is exactly the kind of deal that a team in Texas’ position of minor league firepower and major league competitiveness can and should make.
Reports also were released that Neftali Feliz will have Tommy John surgery, officially eliminating him as a pitching option for the Rangers this year. He may be able to return in August 2013. Additionally, the Rangers announced that Roy Oswalt has been assigned to the bullpen. That sets up the Texas rotation to now be Matt Harrison, Yu Darvish, Dempster, Derek Holland, and either Scott Feldman or Alexi Ogando (if the Rangers continue to stretch him out).
Dempster is not an Ace for the Rangers, but he fills a hole, and the price to acquire him was one that the Rangers could afford. He won’t be a Texas Ranger beyond 2012 like the Rangers had been looking for, but the Rangers are playing to win this year, and he can help them do that.
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