Dempster examining options before deciding
Cubs right-hander may be holding out for Dodgers
PITTSBURGH -- Ryan Dempster is still in the Cubs' rotation and said he will take as much time as he needs, which could be right up to next Tuesday's Trade Deadline, before deciding whether to accept trade proposals, including a possible deal to the Braves.
"I want to look everything over first before I make a decision, and I've got time to do that," Dempster said on Tuesday. "There's a week before the Trade Deadline."
Dempster, 35, who will close the Cubs' series against the Pirates on Wednesday, has earned the right to call the shots. As a veteran with 10 years in the Majors, the last five of which have come with the same team, he can veto any deal, and as of Tuesday, was not ready to accept a trade to the Braves in which the Cubs would get 22-year-old right-hander Randall Delgado.
"The Chicago Cubs are going to do what's best for the Cubs," Dempster said, "and I have a chance to do what's best for me, and I'm going to try to do that."
Asked if he had a timeframe, Dempster said, "About seven days." That would get him to next week's Deadline. If the Cubs' rotation stays in line beyond his outing on Wednesday at Pittsburgh, next Tuesday would be Dempster's following start, against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
Dempster was sitting in the clubhouse at PNC Park while trade rumors were being discussed on the television. He kept his head down, working on a crossword puzzle.
On Tuesday, Dempster did state on his Twitter account, @RyanDempsterFDN, "Nothing official to report. You will be the 1st to know. Thnx to all my fans for the support #RD46"
Dempster, who leads the Major Leagues with a 2.11 ERA, has indicated he would prefer to stay in the National League. He may be favoring the Dodgers, and being reunited with former Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly.
Braves general manager Frank Wren said his club has the framework set for a deal with the Cubs.
"It was an opportunity to get one of the premium arms in this Trade Deadline market and arguably the guy that is pitching the best in baseball," Wren told reporters in Miami. "That's the positive side. The negative side is that it hasn't gone through as quickly as we would have liked."
The Dodgers entered Tuesday tied for the National League Wild Card lead with the Pirates, while the Braves were 4 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and a half-game back in the Wild Card race.
Dempster gave Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer a list of which teams he would prefer, and the pitcher said the front office has kept him informed throughout the process.
"It's awesome being the hammer and not the nail," Dempster said after his last start, on Friday against the Cardinals.
There were also reports that Dempster was "blindsided" by the Braves deal, but sources told MLB.com that Dempster knew about the proposal, and the surprise was how public the trade became before he had made his decision.
"It just makes it harder [to make a decision] when something that wasn't supposed to be public knowledge becomes public knowledge, especially before I even knew it was public knowledge," Dempster said. "That's when things start to get harder, when you get everybody's opinions of what was going on, and really wasn't what went on or what took place, so you don't get to focus your full attention on what you're trying to do and you have to focus on everybody else's perception of what's going on."
Because Dempster will be a free agent at the end of the year and players must be with a team for an entire season in order to qualify for Draft-pick compensation, according to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Braves understand that a deal could possibly benefit them for only the next few months. The righty has not requested a contract extension as a condition for a trade but did admit that anybody would be looking for some security.
"I think anybody in here is interested in a contract extension," Dempster said. "I think that's true for anybody in whatever job they have. Whatever you're doing, whatever your employment is, I think if somebody wants to offer a contract extension, I think it's something you have to look at."
Before being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday, Delgado was 4-9 with a 4.42 ERA in 17 starts this season with the Braves and had pitched twice this year against the Cubs. He did not get a decision in a start at Wrigley Field on May 8, when he gave up one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings, and he took the loss in Atlanta on July 4, when he gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings.
One of the most popular players on the Cubs, Dempster has put together his best season despite two stints on the disabled list. He was out from April 21-May 3 because of a right quad strain and was sidelined from June 18-July 8 because of right lat tightness.
As of now, Dempster is scheduled to start on Wednesday for the Cubs.
"Right now, he's a Chicago Cub and he's pitching tomorrow, and we'll do everything we can to win tomorrow's game," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. "That's what's going on now in the Chicago Cubs world."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.