Gibsons’ Ryan Dempster is changing area codes after the Chicago Cubs traded the 35-year-old right-hander to the Texas Rangers Tuesday afternoon just minutes before the non-waiver trade deadline.
Dempster, who has been a hot commodity on the trade market for the past month, was also linked to the Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Yankees.
A deal with the Braves fell through last week, and the Dodgers were considered the front runners and Dempster’s first choice up until Tuesday morning, when Dempster told ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine that he would approve a trade to the Rangers or the Yankees in order to give the Cubs more options.
The Cubs reportedly received two minor league prospects — right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva — for Dempster, who is 5-5 on the season with a 2.25 ERA in 104 innings during his 16 starts. He’s got 83 strikeouts and 27 walks and opponents are hitting .210 against him.
He was in the last year of his contract with the Cubs and will become a free agent once the season is over. He’s making $14 million this year.
Dempster was one of the most popular players in the Cubs’ clubhouse for nine seasons.
He signed with the Cubs in January of 2004 after under going Tommy John surgery on August of 2003 when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds.
He was the Cubs’ closer for three seasons and is one of 17 pitchers with at least 100 wins and 85 saves. He returned to the rotation in ‘08, and went 17-6 with a 2.96 ERA. He has finished with double-digit wins in each of the last four seasons.
The move by the Rangers was a key one as it gives the American League West Division leaders some much-needed pitching depth in their starting rotation.
With the Anaheim Angels and surprising Oakland Athletics hot on the Rangers’ heels, the Rangers have sputtered of late with a lack of offence and a lack of quality starting pitching.
Colby Lewis was lost for the season earlier in the month following surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his throwing elbow. Roy Oswalt, who was acquired in June, has struggled in his six starts in Texas with a 6.49 ERA and has allowed at least 11 hits in three of those outings. The Angels blasted him Monday night for eight runs in a 15-8 romp by Anaheim. And starter Neftali Feliz is out for the season after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm. He was to undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.
Rangers’ manager Ron Washington said Dempster would take Oswalt’s place in the rotation with Oswalt shifting to the bullpen. Dempster was slated to start last night (Thursday) against Anaheim.
Dempster was drafted by the Rangers in the third round in 1995 and then dealt to the Florida Marlins with Rick Helling for John Burkett in August 1996.
Minutes after the trade Dempster, posted this short comment on his Twitter page: “Thanks to @Cubs, the city of Chicago and the fans. Looking forward to @Rangers tomorrow.”