A day after multiple reports surfaced that Cubs ace Ryan Dempster was on his way to the Braves, a new report emerged Tuesday that Dempster won’t approve the trade because he wants to go to the L.A. Dodgers.
ATLANTA — The Braves may want Chicago Cubs ace Ryan Dempster, but apparently Dempster doesn’t want to come to Atlanta.
At least, the Braves are not his first choice — and may no longer even be a plausible destination after word leaked about the deal Monday.
Fox Sports reported Tuesday that Dempster — who has the right to veto any trade because he has what’s called 10-5 rights (10 years in the majors, and five years minimum service with one team) — won’t sign off on the trade to Atlanta that was first reported by CBS Sports on Monday. The trade was said to be for Braves starter Randall Delgado.
Dempster said he felt “blindsided” by the CBS report, then — according to a report by Yahoo! Sports late Tuesday — shot down the deal. He is now reportedly holding out hope that a trade can get done for his first choice: the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were rumored to be nearing a deal late last week, but that ultimately fell apart when the two sides couldn’t agree to suitable terms.
Dempster finally broke his silence and spoke to ESPN on Tuesday about the situation.
“I want to look everything over first before I make any decisions, and I have time to do that,” Dempster told ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla. “There’s a week before the trading deadline. That’s where I stand on it. I don’t want to start saying who I’m down to because that’s how rumors start and things start to fly around, and things fly all around and things get out that isn’t supposed to get out. Something that is supposed to be a private matter doesn’t stay private. I think if I just keep that close to me, that’s the easiest way.”
But Braves manager Frank Wren told the AJC on Tuesday that he wouldn’t count Atlanta out of the Dempster Sweepstakes just yet.
“It’s not dead,” Wren told the AJC’s Dave O’Brien. “The way we view it is we are continuing to pursue all pitching opportunities. And if this deal materializes, we have the framework of a deal with the Chicago Cubs.”
Wren later added: “It was an opportunity to get one of the premium arms in this trade-deadline market — and arguably the guy that’s pitching the best in baseball. That’s the positive side. The negative side is that it hasn’t gone as quickly as we would like.”
The non-waver deadline is still a week away, so there is still time for the Cubs and Dodgers — or the Cubs and Braves — to work things out. However, Fox reported Tuesday that the Dodgers have all but given up on acquiring the 35-year-old MLB ERA leader and are instead pursuing other available pitchers.
Atlanta catcher David Ross said he thinks the Braves need some help in the starting pitching department to be a legitimate playoff contender.
“We feel like one more legit starting pitcher and we’ve got a chance to win the division,” Ross told the AJC. “Not just make the playoffs, but win our division and really get it rolling. We’ve got to match up starting pitching a little bit better than we have over the year, but you’ve got to give some credit to some of the guys that really stepped up when we need them. And the lineup has been able to accomplish some things at times. We just need that horse. We need another guy. With (Brandon) Beachy out (the rest of the year), we’re missing that (third) guy.
“I think here lately, it’s been proven that a good starting rotation, you have a 1-2, even a 3, punch like the Phillies had. Like some of these teams like the Cardinals have had, or the Giants, the teams that have won the World Series the last couple of years. You need more than one good pitcher. You need two and possibly three to win the whole thing. I think that’s our mindset around here – we know we’re a good enough team to win the whole thing, we just need a little help.”
Dempster is 5-4 with a major league-best 2.11 ERA in 15 starts, making him one of the most attractive pitchers on the market before the July 31 deadline for making trades without waivers.
His contract expires after this season, and the fifth-place Cubs are 16 games below .500.
Dempster remains scheduled to start today against Pittsburgh.
”I just have to worry about going out to pitch and beat the Pirates (today),” Dempster told ESPN.com. “That’s kind of where that stands. I have to slow my mind down a little bit and focus on what I need to focus on, and that’s going out and pitching and winning a ballgame and not worry about the other stuff.”
Dempster said he is still a loyal Cub — for now — and doesn’t want to tick off the fan base that’s cheered him on for years by talking any more about a deal. But he understands some fans may already be writing him off.
“That’s fine; people can say what they want to say,” Dempster told ESPN. “All I know is that when I put my uniform on, I give 100 percent to the Cubs, and I think that’s all you can really ask whether you are a player, a coach, in the front office or a fan of the team. If all the players did that you’d be pretty happy.”
Cubs manager Dale Sveum called the trade reports Monday “a fabrication” and added: “For somebody to report it happened, it’s very unprofessional to do anything like that in that kind of situation.”
Atlanta’s Chipper Jones, however, told the AJC that he believed in the adage that good things could still come to those who wait.
“These trades just don’t happen overnight,” Jones told the newspaper. “There’s days and days and weeks and weeks of communication between the two sides to try and get something done by a specific deadline. We were led to believe that this could happen, which is why we put the effort into it. Now it seems like that might not be the case. It puts Frank in a tough spot, but that’s why they pay Frank the big bucks. He’s got to have Plan B through D. I’m sure that if Ryan decides to stay in Chicago or go someplace else, Frank will have something on the back burner.”
Wren then added to the AJC: “The most unfortunate part is that it’s public. These things happen. When players have no-trade (power), whether it’s a contractual no-trade or a 10-and-5, it creates additional difficulties for all of us to complete the deal.”