Going into the season, Matt Garza was predicted to be the prize of the trading deadline. He is still a major prize, but Ryan Dempster is the belle of the ball.
Dempster, who currently leads the Majors with a 1.86 ERA, is on the trading block and nearly every team has contacted the Chicago Cubs about acquiring him. He has the right to veto any trade and wants to pitch for a contender.
He is owed nearly $6 million for the rest of the season and the Cubs have said they would pick up most of the money if they receive an upgraded prospect in return.
Dempster has a short-list of teams where he would like to end up. Which teams are on that list and what are the Cubs looking to get in return for him?
FOX Sports is reporting that Dempster pinpointed the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves as his top destinations. He is rumored to be open to other destinations, which is good for the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and Washington Nationals.
The Cubs have made it clear they want young pitching and/or a third base prospect. These teams will be renting Dempster, since he’s a free agent at the end of the season. If they miss out on him, they will include many of these prospects in hopes of landing Garza.
Who can those teams offer? Let’s take a look at who may be involved.
The Cubs would LOVE to trade Matt Garza, Darwin Barney, and Dempster in a package to Detroit. They would ask for third base prospect Nick Castellanos, top pitching prospect Jacob Turner, and a few other young pitchers from the group of Bruce Rondon, Drew Smyly, Casey Crosby, Andy Oliver, and Brenny Paulino.
Detroit has all the right pieces to trade for any player currently on the Cubs roster.
Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have been very proactive on trying to acquire Dempster. They are rumored to have a deal currently on the table. No one knows which prospects are in the deal, but pitching is definitely the centerpiece.
The pitching prospects rumored in the deal begins with 20-year old Garrett Gould. He is the prospect most likely to be in the deal. Zach Lee, Nate Eovaldi, Allen Webster, and Chris Reed aren’t as likely to be included, since L.A. thinks too highly of them to part ways.
A group of secondary pitching prospects that could be thrown in could include Aaron Miller, Angel Sanchez, Matt Magill, Chris Withrow, and Ryan O’Sullivan. The Dodgers are also trying to acquire Aramis Ramirez from Milwaukee and Shane Victorino from Philadelphia, so this group could all find new homes by August 1st.
Even though Dempster would like to pitch in Atlanta, I don’t see this deal happening. The Braves were looking hard at Zack Greinke, but Milwaukee’s asking price was too high.
Atlanta is in a bad situation in the present day. They are finding it hard to trade for a veteran pitcher, since every team is asking for their stud pitching prospects in return. The group of Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Sean Gilmartin are asked about in nearly every deal. If the Braves want Dempster, they would need to part with someone from that group. Using that reasoning, they could focus on cheaper talent, like Francisco Liriano or Jason Vargas.
Washington is in need of a veteran pitcher to fill-in for Stephen Strasburg, since he’s on a innings limit this year. Their farm system isn’t what it used to be. They have already called up most of their top-tier young talent.
Third base prospect Anthony Rendon is the only Nationals prospect in the Top 100 list that the Cubs would be interested in. The only pitching prospects they could include would be second-tier. Alex Meyer, Matt Purke, and Robbie Ray are those pitchers.
Boston Red Sox
The rumor out of Chicago is that Boston is scared to trade with Theo Epstein, because he knows their farm system so well. I would assume that Ryan Lavarnway would be asked about right away. Epstein isn’t sold on Geovany Soto as the long-term catcher for the Cubs. There are big question marks about Lavarnway’s defensive ability behind the plate, but he could be worth the risk.
The pitching prospect cupboard is pretty bare in Boston. Matt Barnes is the best pitcher in their farm system. If the Cubs trade with Boston, Epstein will get the most out of the trade. They may not get the young arms they covet, but other holes will be addressed.