Dodgers “very unlikely” to trade for Ryan Dempster

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The Dodgers have long been considered the favorites to land Ryan Dempster, but it appears that their strategy is changing on the fly.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that the Dodgers are now seen as “very unlikely” to trade for Dempster. The team would prefer to not deal some of their top prospects for a rental player, as Dempster will be a free agent after this season. Per the new collective bargaining agreement, he also can’t be offered arbitration by the acquiring team. This leads Rosenthal to believe that Dempster’s teammate Matt Garza is the “more logical target,” as he is under team control through 2013.

It’s not clear who the Cubs are asking for in return for Dempster. While top prospect right-hander Zach Lee would be off-limits in a Dempster deal, his name would surely come up in discussions for Garza.

Dempster has 5-and-10 rights and can veto any trade. He gave up four runs over six innings last night against the Cardinals and saw his 33-inning scoreless streak come to an end. The Nationals, Braves, Tigers and Cardinals are among the other teams who have reportedly expressed interest in the veteran right-hander.

UPDATE: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Braves, Nationals and Cardinals are currently battling it out for Dempster. The Cubs seek pitching prospects in all deals.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.