Ryan Dempster may have made final start for Cubs

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ESPN’s Buster Olney is among those who believe Ryan Dempster made his final Cubs start Saturday, when he extended his scoreless-inning streak to 33.

The Cubs might be in more of a hurry to move Dempster not just because his value is at a high point but also to help clear the way for a Matt Garza deal at the end of the month. If Dempster is already off the market, it could conceivably lead to more demand for Garza, who has increased value because he’s under control for 2013.

ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine says 10 teams are showing interest in Dempster, including the Braves, Dodgers, Indians, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Levine reports that, beyond young pitching, the Cubs would like to pick up a third-base prospect in a deal. The Tigers, with Nick Castellanos, could best fulfill the Cubs’ wishes there, though it’s unlikely they’d give him up for Dempster. Likewise, it seems doubtful the Indians would surrender Lonnie Chisenhall in return for Dempster.

Dempster is 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA in 92 innings this season. Since he’s spent 10 years in the league and five with the Cubs, he can veto any trade. However, he is expected to approve a deal.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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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.