ESPN’s Buster Olney is among those who believe Ryan Dempster made his final Cubs start Saturday, when he extended his scoreless-inning streak to 33.
The Cubs might be in more of a hurry to move Dempster not just because his value is at a high point but also to help clear the way for a Matt Garza deal at the end of the month. If Dempster is already off the market, it could conceivably lead to more demand for Garza, who has increased value because he’s under control for 2013.
ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine says 10 teams are showing interest in Dempster, including the Braves, Dodgers, Indians, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Levine reports that, beyond young pitching, the Cubs would like to pick up a third-base prospect in a deal. The Tigers, with Nick Castellanos, could best fulfill the Cubs’ wishes there, though it’s unlikely they’d give him up for Dempster. Likewise, it seems doubtful the Indians would surrender Lonnie Chisenhall in return for Dempster.
Dempster is 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 92 innings this season. Since he’s spent 10 years in the league and five with the Cubs, he can veto any trade. However, he is expected to approve a deal.
The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.
Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.
Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.