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 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 reports that the Braves, Nationals and Cardinals are currently battling it out for Dempster. The Cubs seek pitching prospects in all deals.

Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for Red Sox

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No surprise here: Chris Sale will start on Opening Day for the Red Sox, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe reports. The Red Sox open the season on March 29 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Sale will oppose Chris Archer.

Sale, 28, is the fifth different Opening Day starter the Red Sox have had in as many years, preceded by Rick Porcello, David Price, Clay Buchholz, and Jon Lester. Sale started on Opening Day for the White Sox in 2013, ’14, and ’16.

Sale finished second in AL Cy Young Award balloting last year and finished ninth for AL MVP. He went 17-8 with a 2.90 ERA and a 308/43 K/BB ratio in 214 1/3 innings. Sale and Clayton Kershaw (2015) are the only pitchers to strike out 300 or more batters in a season dating back to 2003.