UPDATE! Various reports on Twitter indicate that this is not yet a done deal and Dempster is in the Cubs clubhouse in Pittsburgh in uniform. Stay tuned.
Ryan Dempster has spent nearly nine full seasons as a Chicago Cub -- that's a long time, in current baseball terms. With the retirement of Kerry Wood earlier this year, Dempster was the longest-serving current member of the team.
Now, he'll be pitching for the Atlanta Braves as they try to either win the NL East -- they're currently 3½ games behind -- or take one of the two wild-card spots; if the season ended today (of course it won't, but still) the Braves would play the Pirates in the play-in game.
There are rumors that in return, the Cubs have acquired righthander Randall Delgado:
Confirmed Ryan Dempster is coming to the Braves.Still trying to confirm details but Delgado could be on the other end of the deal— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) July 23, 2012
Note, the Delgado rumor is not yet confirmed; I'll update this post if and when it is. Delgado is 22 years old and has a 4.42 ERA in 17 starts for the Braves this season (including two starts against the Cubs in which he pitched well both times, but got a loss and a no-decision).
Presuming it is Randall Delgado, the deal should work out quite well for the Cubs; they reportedly acquire a pitcher who can step right in to a major-league rotation and also be under team control until 2018 (and not be arb-eligible for two more years) -- and they still have the possibility of re-signing Dempster after the season.
The Cubs will miss Dempster's veteran leadership; he's always conducted himself with class and dignity, and performed well for the Cubs whether in his years as closer or in the rotation. The Cubs don't play the Braves again this year so I can wish him all the best and hope he can get a World Series ring in Atlanta.