Cubs finally deal Dempster ... to Rangers
Ryan Dempster was traded Tuesday, and it wasn't to the Dodgers or the Braves. The Texas Rangers moved in and acquired the veteran right-hander just a few minutes before the trade deadline.
Peace and harmony reigned at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.
In fact, it was so peaceful and harmonious that Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer invited pitcher Ryan Dempster into the team offices while Hoyer was in the process of trading him.
"As long as he had a TV, he was good to go," Hoyer said. "You go back to the relationship, I don't think that would have happened if there was any kind of animosity."
Either that or Hoyer didn't want to let Dempster out of his sight after what happened last week, when Dempster turned down a trade to the Atlanta Braves.
Hoyer succeeded in trading Dempster Tuesday, to the Texas Rangers for pitcher Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva, both of whom have been at Class A Myrtle Beach.
It capped a busy 24 hours. On Monday, the Cubs traded pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves for prospects and catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers for a minor-league pitcher.
The Dempster deal was completed right before the 3 p.m. CDT nonwaiver trading deadline and happened after a proposed deal to the Los Angeles Dodgers could not be worked out. Dempster's preferred team was the Dodgers.
The Cubs and Rangers finally agreed, and Dempster gave his blessing as is his right as a player with 10-and-5 (10 years in the big leagues and five with the same team) player.
"It came down to the end," Hoyer said. "He held pretty firm on the Dodger thing. I was really actually glad he was in our office the last couple hours. It was probably fun for him to see how we work and see what happens. He sat in our office and watched himself on TV.
"I don't remember exactly what time, but at some point, he said if this Dodger thing is not going to work, then we'll open it up to handful of teams."
In the end, it came down to the Rangers and Yankees.
"The Rangers moved very fast," Dempster said. "They obviously have a very, very good team. I'm going to go down there and hopefully just be a small piece of what they already have going.
"They're in first place. Hopefully I'm going to go down there and just sneak in the back door and try and just blend in and do my job when I'm asked to do my job."
The 35-year-old Dempster had been with the Cubs since 2004. He met with reporters in the stands Tuesday and seemed relieved.
"For sure, relief," he said. "It's been a long time coming. It's been talked about for a long time. Definitely a lot of excitement to go to a first-place team, to go to a winner. Definitely some tough dealings, some emotions.
"I played here for a long time. It's going to be weird not putting on that Cub uniform and putting on a different uniform."
Dempster could have been gone last week, but he balked at the Atlanta deal.
"It was just a decision over time," he said. "I never really got a chance to make the decision. It was kind of made for me. Unfortunately, I just needed some time to think about it. It worked out the way it did. I'm happy with going to the Texas Rangers."
Both sides denied any bad blood over Dempster's nixing of the deal to the Braves, which might have brought pitching prospect Randall Delgado.
"With Ryan, I'm sure this is an unusual situation over the last 10 days or so," Hoyer said. "I think you all know his personality. He was sitting in our office. There's never been any kind of personal animosity. It's always been very amicable.
"He's a great guy. There's a reason he's a fan favorite here. I give him credit. Last year was a down year for him and a difficult year for him. Look at what he's done this year. It's been phenomenal."
Hoyer said the main reason for the trade was to restock the farm system.
"We talked a lot about keeping him," Hoyer said. "Ultimately, he's a free agent. We felt like the right thing to do was to keep adding talent to the farm system. We've said a number of times we don't have enough depth in the system. We don't have enough good young players. We had a chance to add two guys we like a lot. We took that chance."
Hoyer termed the 22-year-old Hendricks a "strike thrower." Hendricks was 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA at Myrtle Beach with 112 strikeouts and only 15 walks in 130 innings. Villanueva had a line of .285/.356/.421 with 10 homers.
As far as other deals, Hoyer said there was some interest and discussion about left fielder Alfonso Soriano, but nothing materialized. He added that if Dempster-to-Texas hadn't worked out, Dempster would be a Cub today.
Dempster tried to clarify his position.
"I did say no to some places," he said. "I just said if something came up, if there was a trade that helped the club that was something I was willing to do and had time to think about it … the last few days, I had to give a lot more thought to what teams might possibly be there so that I could be prepared to make my decision.
"There's no right or wrong decisions. There's just journeys in life that we end up taking."
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