Ryan Dempster expected to exercise $14 million option for 2012

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Not a big surprise, but Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Ryan Dempster is expected to exercise his $14 million player option for next season.

Dempster, 34, is in the final guaranteed year of a four-year, $52 million contract. He has proved to be a good value for Chicago, despite his superficially mediocre 4.60 ERA over 27 starts this season. His strikeout percentage is actually right on par with where he was last season while his walk percentage is improved.

It’s possible that the Cubs could attempt to renegotiate Dempster’s option as part of a multi-year contract, though that decision will likely fall on the next general manager.

‘‘I think that’s something that I’ll have to look at at the end of the year, and hopefully something that they’re interested in happening here,’’ he said. ‘‘The main thing for me to do is focus on [tonight’s] game.’’

Of course, one of the more interesting decisions for the Cubs this offseason will be whether to exercise Aramis Ramirez’s $16 million option for 2012 or buy him out for $2 million. The 33-year-old is batting .311 with 24 home runs and an .886 OPS this season, so with no heir apparent at third base, there’s a strong argument to keep him around.

Report: Diamondbacks acquire Steven Souza from Rays; Yankees land Brandon Drury

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Update (6:35 PM ET): This is a three-team deal also involving the Diamondbacks, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Diamondbacks will receive outfielder Steven Souza from the Rays and second baseman Brandon Drury will head to the Yankees. Lefty reliever Anthony Banda will go to the Rays, Piecoro adds. The Diamondbacks will also receive prospect Taylor Widener from the Yankees, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert adds that the Rays will get two players to be named later from the D-Backs.

Souza, 28, is earning $3.55 million in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility, so the Rays are presumably saving money in moving him. Last season, Souza hit a productive .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBI, 78 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 617 plate appearances. Souza’s arrival almost certainly pushes Yasmany Tomas out of a starting gig.

Drury, 25, has played a handful of positions in his brief major league career. Last year, he played second base in Arizona, batting .267/.317/.447 with 13 home runs and 63 RBI in 480 PA.

Banda, 24, made his major league debut last season, posting an ugly 5.96 ERA with a 25/10 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings. The peripherals suggest he pitched better than his ERA indicated.

Widener, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the 12th round of the 2016 draft. This past season with High-A Tampa, he pitched 119 1/3 innings and posted a 3.39 ERA with a 129/50 K/BB ratio. MLB Pipeline rated Widener as the 14th-best prospect in the Yankees’ system.

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Robert Murray of FanRag Sports reports that the Rays will acquire second base prospect Nick Solak from the Yankees. The Yankees’ return is presently not known.

Solak, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2016 draft. He spent last season between High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton, hitting a combined .297/.384/.452 with 12 home runs, 53 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases.

MLB Pipeline ranked Solak as the eighth-best prospect in the Yankees’ system and the fifth-best second base prospect in baseball, praising him for his ability to hit line drives as well as his speed.