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.

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.