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.
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.