Ryan Dempster continues to do wonders for his trade value. In his second start back after missing three weeks with a strained right lat muscle, Dempster tossed six shutout innings this afternoon as part of a 4-1 win over the Diamondbacks at Wrigley Field. He now has a career-high 33-inning scoreless streak dating back to May 30 against the Padres.
Dempster’s scoreless streak is the longest in the majors this season, topping R.A. Dickey’s 32 2/3 inning streak from May 22-June 13. It’s also the longest scoreless streak by any Cubs’ pitcher since Ken Holtzman had a 33-inning scoreless streak of his own back in 1969.
Dempster, an impending free agent, currently leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA and has a solid 75/25 K/BB ratio across 92 innings. The 35-year-old has earned ten-and-five rights, so he has the ability to block any trade, but he has indicated that he’s willing to accept a deal in the right situation. The Dodgers have been mentioned frequently as a potential suitor.
The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”
While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.
The deal has not been confirmed by the team.