We weren’t expecting that! The Rangers land Ryan Dempster

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After more than a week of flirtation with the Dodgers, a brief fling with the Braves, and then some footsie with the Yankees, Ryan Dempster has been traded.  To the Rangers. In exchange, the Cubs get third baseman Christian Villanueva and RHP Kyle Hendricks.

There were rumblings this morning that the Rangers were involved, but many figured that it was simply a matter of the Cubs trying to leverage Dempster’s first choice — the Dodgers — into paying what they want.  That didn’t happen, however, and late this afternoon word came down that Dempster had given approval for a trade to either the Dodgers, the Yankees or the Rangers. And Jon Daniels sealed the deal.

Villanueva is only 21 years-old. He’s hitting .285/.356/.421 with ten homers for high-A Myrtle Beach. His teammate, Hendricks, is 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 130.2 innings with only 15 walks. He’ll turn 23 in December.

Nick Williams has been trying to sell Jake Arrieta on the Phillies

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CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.

Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”

On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”

Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.

Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.