On Monday, many of you saw this tweet from ESPN's Buster Olney:
Source: The Red Sox are aggressive in the pursuit of Ryan Dempster. Cubs going through their process on the right-hander.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 16, 2012
Sure. With the Cubs out of contention and Dempster in a contract year and having an outstanding season, it's time to sell high on him. But are the Red Sox really interested? Not so, says Alex Speier of WEEI radio in Boston, specifically refuting Olney's tweet (the words "a report" in this quote in the WEEI link were linked to that tweet):
A major league source denied a report that the Red Sox are "aggressive in the pursuit of Ryan Dempster." To the contrary, the source suggested, the Sox have not been pursuing the right-hander actively.
Well. What does this mean for Dempster and the Cubs, with two weeks until the non-waiver trading deadline? Follow me past the jump for more.
It's clear that Ryan Dempster will have a new baseball home come August 1. That said, his baseball home in 2013 could be the North Side of Chicago again, according to USA Today:
Even if Dempster is traded, he told USA TODAY Sports he'd be more than willing to return to the Cubs as a free agent this winter.
When and to whom will this happen? Dempster is scheduled to start Friday for the Cubs in St. Louis; as of the time of this post he was still listed as the Cubs' probable pitcher Friday. His next start after that, if he remained a Cub, would be Wednesday, July 25 in Pittsburgh, and subsequent to that, the day of the deadline, July 31 at Wrigley Field, also against the Pirates -- although that game is a night game, and the deadline is 3 p.m. CDT that day, so even if it went down to the deadline, the last possible start Dempster could make as a Cub would be that July 25 outing. Thus, in fact, he likely has had his last Wrigley Field start as a Cub -- at least for this year, if the possibility that he might return in 2013 comes to pass.
At SB Nation's Red Sox site, Over The Monster, Marc Normandin has a reasoned analysis of the Red Sox' purported interest in Dempster:
The language in a note from Alex Speier yesterday makes more sense, with the Red Sox "not actively pursuing" Dempster, a phrase that makes it sound like they're doing their due diligence, and checking in on the price on a potential major piece of the trade deadline picture. Dempster is reportedly willing to pitch for any contender, and he's a straight-up rental without any post-2012 strings attached, thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement's rules on pick compensation, so it's in the Red Sox' interest to at least check to see what the price is looking like.
He's not a great fit, though, since the Cubs want to pay his remaining salary in order to increase the quality of prospects coming back. There's no need for them to force a deal with Dempster, either, as it's likely someone will pay up by the time July 31 rolls around, and if not, his 2012 performance has been such that, were the Cubs to extend the $12.5 million qualifying offer to him -- the new CBA's replacement for the Elias Rankings in pick compensation -- they would more than likely find someone to bite on Dempster, getting draft picks in exchange for losing the righty.
Last Friday, Bruce Levine wrote at ESPN.com essentially the same thing regarding the Cubs' due diligence:
The Cubs have started, in earnest, to look at minor league players at the lower levels of almost every farm system. The organization is looking for young pitching in return for its veteran players, but, according to a baseball source who has inquired about trading with the Cubs, a well regarded third-base prospect is also very high on their wish list.
I believe Dempster will be traded; to whom, I have no idea (though the Tigers and Dodgers seem the best fits). I do not necessarily think it'll be before his scheduled start Friday; Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have shown they work methodically, don't talk much about anything publicly, and don't do things on an artificial media or blog timetable.
Have at it. Seems like a while since the last game, doesn't it?