Ryan Dempster hoping to return from disabled list Sunday

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From MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat comes word that Cubs starter Ryan Dempster threw an intensive bullpen session Wednesday afternoon at Atlanta’s Turner Field and could return to the Chicago starting rotation on Sunday in New York if he experiences no lingering soreness in the aftermath of the workout.

Dempster was placed on the disabled list June 16 with tightness in his right latissimus dorsi muscle.

The 35-year-old has registered a superb 2.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 66/22 K/BB ratio in 81 innings this season. He’ll be one of the Cubs’ better trade chips as the July 31 non-waiver deadline approaches.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.