Getty Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster says he never turned down that deal to the Braves. Um, OK.

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Ryan Dempster was all-but-traded to the Braves last week, but rejected it with his 10/5 rights.  At least that’s what The Man wants you to believe. Dempster says it didn’t go down like that:

“The truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, I didn’t turn down any trades. All I asked for was more time on one particular trade. I didn’t really get that time. It got leaked out that I said yes and then I said no. And even after I said no — I never officially said no — I said I needed time to think about it, and I have the right to that time. I know people want an answer overnight, but I’ve been traded twice in my career with no say and so to have a little bit of say and time to make a decision, that’s all I wanted. Unfortunately it went down the way it did. I felt bad for the Atlanta Braves. They are a first-class, top-notch organization.”

Couple things:

  • When someone who prefaces an assertion of fact with “frankly,” or “the truth of the matter” or “in all honesty,” it usually means that the following statement will neither be frank, truthful nor honest. If you add an “at the end of the day” to it, sorry, I’m more suspicious, because that’s just vamping, verbal goo.
  • If all Dempster wanted was more time, and he did not, in fact, get traded to the Braves, doesn’t that strongly suggest that he did, in fact, turn it down? Because I’m having a hard time seeing the Cubs just voluntarily walking away from what almost everyone thought was a great deal in landing Randall Delgado unless they were forced to.
  • If that didn’t happen and, instead, it was the Braves who bailed, it was because Dempster’s delay caused them to rethink. Which, effectively speaking, means that Dempster did scuttle the deal through his actions if not his words.

Is there another possibility here? I’m having a hard time seeing one. What seems pretty obvious, however, is that Dempster is really interested in not being seen as the impediment to that scuttled deal, when he almost certainly was, one way or another.

And just to be clear: he had every right in the world to sink that deal if he wanted to. His union brothers negotiated for that considerable power and he earned the right to exercise that considerable power through his consistency and longevity.

But you know what they say about what comes with great power, right?

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.