Dodgers Trade Rumors: Ryan Dempster


As we head into the summer months, and we inch closer to July 31, the trade rumor winds begin to swirl. The big question on everyone’s mind is of course, how will the extra wild card affect the trade market? Good question. I think we will definitely see the trade market different than in year’s past. With the addition of that second wild card, more teams will be in contention or think they are in contention later in the season. This could create more “buyers” than “sellers”. Those are the new buzz words now during trade season. Teams are either “buyers” or they are “sellers”

Of course with the Dodgers in first place and the best record in Baseball, they would obviously be buyers. So with that in mind, let’s address the latest trade rumors today…..right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster of the Cubs.

I think it is probably a good bet that Ryan Dempster will be made available. After all the two worst teams in the league are the Cubs and Padres. Dempster has been with the Cubs since 2004, and despite the Cubs being terrible, he is putting up an all-star type of a season. Naturally the Dodgers are interested in him.

Dempster is 6’2 and 215 pounds, and originally he is Canadian, from Sechelt, British Colombia, Canada. Dempster was originally drafted by the Rangers in the third round of the 1995 draft. Instead he was traded to the Marlins, for John Burkett. Dempster pitched with Florida from 1998- midseason of 2002 in which he was traded to the Reds. Dempster would pitch for the Reds through the 2003 season, until he had to bow out to have Tommy John surgery. Dempster was an all-star in 2000.  Winning 14 games, whiffing 209 batters, and pitching in over 200 innings. As a matter of fact, Dempster pitched over 200 innings three seasons in a row from 2000-2002. The innings added up on his arm however, and after a year and a half with the Reds, Dempster had to have surgery.

The Reds released him, and Dempster signed with the Cubs in 2004. He has pitched with the Cubs ever since. In the beginning he was a reliever.  From 2004-2006, Dempster appeared in at least 60 games, registering 33 saves, 24 saves, and 28 saves respectively as the team’s closer. Finally in 2008, Dempster returned to the rotation, and perhaps had his finest season as a starter that year.

In 2008, Dempster finished sixth in the Cy Young voting, and was selected to his second all-star game. He won 17 games that year, posted an ERA of 2.96, pitched over 200 innings, and recorded 187 whiffs, and an 8.1 whiff per nine rate. Since then he has been amazingly durable, pitching in over 200 innings since then. He won 15 games in 2010, and his whiff per nine rate increased over 2010-2011, from 7.7 to 8.7 in 2010, and 8.5 in 2011. He had 208 whiffs in 2010, and 191 last year.

This season, Dempster is having perhaps one of his best seasons. He is 2-3, but his ERA is 2.31. He has allowed just 56 hits, and 20 walks in 74 innings, while whiffing 63 batters. His whiff per nine rate is 7.7, and he is one pace for around 190 whiffs again, and over 200 innings. Dempster has five pitches: a four seam two seam fastball, a cutter, a slider, and a very effective splitter that he likes to throw to right handers. This can make him very good in the late innings. of course being on the worst team in the league means you won’t pick up many wins, which explains him only having two wins.

Here is the problem with Dempster as I see it. Don’t get me wrong, Dempster is good, but he is old and expensive. Dempster is already 35 years old, and in the final year of a four-year 52 million dollar contract with the Cubs. He is owed another 14 million through this season. So how much are the Dodgers willing to pay on his contract? How much are the Cubs willing to pay on the remainder of his contract?

If the Dodgers are unwilling to pay for most of his contract, then they might have to offset that by tossing in a couple of good pitching prospects. The Dodgers don’t have much to deal, but they have plenty of right-handed pitching prospects. I wouldn’t mind the Dodgers throwing in a Chris Withrow or an Allen Webster or maybe a Garret Gould? Obviously the Dodgers are going to have to part with one or possibly two pitching prospects, and pay a good portion of his salary to get him, but do the Dodgers really need him?

Stan Kasten has already said that he intends on going after a starting pitcher, a lefty reliever, and a bat. The Dodgers have the second best pitching staff in Baseball, so do they really need Dempster more than a big bat in the middle of the lineup, preferably at third base, especially since Matt Kemp could be out until July? I am not sure, but hey I would still take him though. Obviously he would upgrade the rotation even more. More questions would arise though, as the question becomes, who would you bump out of the rotation for him? Would you move Aaron Harang to the pen? Or Chad Billingsley into a long man role? The latter seems unlikely.

The Dodgers are definitely interested in Dempster, and the Cubs are so, so, so bad, very bad, people. They are so awful, that they will be selling off their players come July. Ergo, Dempster will be avilable. And they will be selling guys off to the highest bidders. In a vacuum, sure I like this move. However are the Dodgers going to sign him after this season when he becomes a free agent? How much Baseball does he have left at age 35? Do the Dodgers want to give another multi-year deal to another pitcher over 30? Would Dempster waive his no-trade clause? It seems like he would. if the Dodgers trade for him though, and he signs elsewhere in 2013, the Dodgers would not recieve any draft compensation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take Dempster if the price is reasonable. He is a good pitcher, and with Lilly injured, it’s a good idea for the Dodgers to have more pitching depth. Hey after all you can never have too much pitching, and we all know how the Dodgers just love to stockpile up on arms.

The thing is, the Dodgers need a bat more than they need arms. The lack of run production from the infield corners is what is killing the team, especially with Matt Kemp still sidelined. I think there is a very good possibility this trade goes down soon. However are the Dodgers prioritizing their needs correctly? Is this a good way to spend our resources? What do you think Dodger fans? Let us know in the comments. Should the Dodgers trade for arms, bats, or both?