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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.