MLB executives expect the additional Wild Card teams to slow down the trade market this summer, but there will certainly be some teams looking to sell early. You can certainly put the Chicago Cubs on that list.
They’re currently in last place in the NL Central and that’s likely where they’ll be all season. There’s plenty of MLB rumors about the Cubs trading away some veteran pieces like Matt Garza and Alfonso Soriano for some prospects, but you have to put Ryan Demspter atop that list of most likely to be traded.
Through 12 games, Dempster has a 3-3 record with a 2.11 ERA. He’s recorded 66 strikeouts to 22 walks and a WHIP of 1.01. He’s arguably having one of his best seasons. His record is a bit deceiving because he’s just not getting any run support. This is the final season on his four-year $52 million deal.
You’ve got to think the Cubs will definitely be trading him to a contender looking for starting pitching help, but they’ll likely have to eat a large chunk of his salary and they’re willing to do so. He’s being paid 13.5 million this season and still owed roughly 8 million.
One team being strongly being linked to trading for Dempster would be the Los Angeles Dodgers. It appears the New York Yankees aren’t’ overly interested in the Cubs right-hander… but New York, Boston, Atlanta, and Detroit are among the contenders that might seek rotation help between now and the end of July.
Dempster’s contract could certainly complicate or slow things down. But Chicago will do whatever they can to move quickly on this. Before the deadline we could see Cole Hammels, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum be on the trading block, but for now Ryan Dempster is certainly the best pitcher on the market and the Cubs will be looking to exploit that sooner than later.
Updated: Moments after writing this article the Chicago Cubs placed Dempster on the disabled list with tightness in his right lat. While this might not be a serious injury to the right-hander, it will most definitely impact his trade value.
Chicago has yet to set a timetable on his return, but President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein noted that it could set back a potential move. “Generally when players have these minor injuries, it’s typical to wait until they comeback and establish health before there’s trade talks, Epstein said.