The Ryan Dempster trade saga has become a tough situation to stomach as the Los Angeles Dodgers can completely dictate any deal that might be made. Ned Colleti isn’t stupid, he knows that if the Cubs want any return for Dempster it can only come from the Dodger system.
But even with the Dodgers virtually calling all the shots, it is still in the Cubs’ best interests to trade him. It has surfaced that the Cubs are considering keeping him and making him a 1-year/$12 million qualifying offer in the hope that he’ll decline and the Cubs will end up with a draft pick.
But this is most likely the team trying to drum up some leverage out of thin air. Ken Rosenthal writes that it is unlikely they’d ever make such an offer because they don’t want to risk being on the hook for $12 million.
Holding on to Dempster to then extend him doesn’t make any sense either. To begin with, he can simply resign with the Cubs even if he is traded. But even so, I’d say the Harry Caray statue is more likely to pitch for the Cubs in 2013 than Dempster. A pitcher close to being on the wrong side of 30 is not the type of guy Theo and Jed will be interested in. And what has transpired this week has probably soured both sides towards another. Dempster still has value, but not to a team like the Cubs at his current market price.
So that leaves us back where we started: the Cubs need to trade Dempster because it’s the only safe way to get something for him. And something is better than nothing, right?
Zach Lee, the highest rated Dodger prospect on MLB.com and Fangraphs.com, is the ultimate prize and his name had, quite obviously, surfaced as the Cubs main target. But given the Cubs’ current bargaining position it’ll be tough to land him. I have no clue if the Marlins were interested in him, but if they were and couldn’t get him for a former batting champ under contract for multiple seasons (Hanley Ramirez), then the Cubs have no chance. This is especially given the Dodgers need offense far more than starting pitching.
Still, Theo and Jed can add value to the system. If you look at those Dodger prospect lists you’ll see they are full of pitchers. While many of those guys likely won’t end up starting in the majors, there might be some effective future bullpen pieces in there.
The last few seasons there has been a parade of ineffective relievers shuttling back and forth from Iowa (think Scott Maine, Casey Coleman, etc.). And despite some recent success, the bullpen, and especially its depth, could use a major upgrade. Simply adding, semi well-regarded arms to the system would help, even if they never end up in the rotation.
I’m not going to pretend like I know anything about the Dodgers system. But given the situation, if the Cubs could get a package for Dempster which includes one or more of the pitchers on either list I’d be thrilled. Allen Webster‘s name popped up on Twitter yesterday, and based on the rankings a package centered around him would be a solid return at this point.
This is mainly so because the alternative looks like Dempster signing elsewhere next season and leaving nothing but memories.