Ryan Dempster exercises 2012 player option to stay with Cubs

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According to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com, Ryan Dempster has exercised his 2012 player option to stay with the Cubs. It was an expected move, as he has $14 million coming his way next season.

Dempster, 34, went 10-14 with a 4.80 ERA and 191/82 K/BB ratio over 34 starts this season. He logged 202 1/3 innings en route to surpassing the 200-inning mark for the fourth consecutive season.

It was a disappointing year on the surface for Dempster, even though his peripherals were very much in line with last season. The major difference was a career-low swinging strike rate combined with a high line-drive rate, which resulted in a bloated batting average on balls in play. While the veteran right-hander posted a 3.83 ERA at the “Friendly Confines,” he had an ugly 6.08 ERA on the road.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.