Update (10:10 a.m.): Jon Heyman is reporting that the Dodgers and Cubs are talking both Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. The Dodgers are seen as the favorites to land Dempster and Heyman lists the AL East contenders (Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, and possibly the Orioles) as all having interest in Garza. Personally, I don't think the Orioles have the goods to land Garza unless they include Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado, but they won't part with those players and it's hard to blame them there.
According to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla, there will be 10 teams scouting Cubs veteran RHP Ryan Dempster on Saturday.
Padilla states that according to major league sources, the clubs that have had the most interest in the pitcher have been the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and Cleveland Indians. The Cubs are primarily interested in requiring young pitching and we've talked about some of the top pitching prospects for both the Dodgers and Braves. In the Braves article we talked about primarily about Garza, but Dempster may be a better fit for the Braves and Cubs on a deal. Dodgers star Matt Kemp and Braves legend Chipper Jones both vouched for Dempster, specifically mentioning him as a pitcher that is respected and who would help their respective teams chances.
As for the Indians, their top pitching prospect is 2011 draftee Dillon Howard, but Howard has logged just 10 professional innings in Rookie League, so he's a long, long way away. Dillon's best pitch is a sinking fastball, which he throws in the low 90s. He can get his fastball up into the 94 mph range if needed. He also throws a change and slurvy breaking ball, which needs more consistency.
Former Boston farmhand Nick Hagadone a LH relief pitcher is also a possibility. He has pitched for the big club this year but has been ineffective (6.39 ERA, 4.84 FIP). Unfortunately, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, he was placed on the minor league disqualified list after injuring himself in a fit of frustration following a recent poor outing. In another stumbling block, most of the Indians pitching prospects are relievers.
Padilla says the Cubs are also looking for a third baseman.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, the Globe and Mail is reporting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos may be willing to pull the trigger on a deal for a pitcher.
The Jays GM has gone on record saying that he's not averse to trading prospects. He said, however, that teams were looking for core players off their roster and that's why he didn't accept any offers this past offseason.
“There were no prospect discussions with other teams that we said a flat-out ‘no’ to,” the Blue Jays general manager said Tuesday. “It was the combinations, maybe of prospects or prospects and players off our major-league roster. All the deals we had in the off-season would have required a big-league guy being added – a core piece. It was never a pure prospect deal.”
The Blue Jays are widely considered to have one of the best groups of pitching prospects in baseball and would be an excellent fit for the Cubs. There has been speculation that the Jays would also be interested in Garza rather than native Canadian Ryan Dempster because of the extra year of control, and because the Jays would get compensation in the form of a draft pick.
Jim Callis ranked the Jays top 10 pitching prospects in his chat yesterday...
The Blue Jays may have more quality pitching in their farm system than any team, though most of it is at least a couple of years away from making a big league impact. Here's how I'd stack up their 10 best mound prospects:
1. Aaron Sanchez, rhp
Misses bats with mid-90s fastball and curve, just needs command.
2. Noah Syndergaard, rhp
A little less dynamic but more polished than Sanchez.
3. Daniel Norris, lhp
$2 million second-rounder from 2011 can touch 96 mph with his fastball.
4. Marcus Stroman, rhp
Jays stole most electric arm in 2012 draft with 22nd overall pick.
5. Justin Nicolino, lhp
Classic finesse southpaw has quality changeup, best command in system.
6. Matt Smoral, lhp
Slid from mid-first round to 50th pick in 2012 after breaking bone in his foot.
7. Adonys Cardona, rhp
Can hit 94 mph, set record for Venezuelan pitchers with $2.8 million bonus.
8. Roberto Osuna, rhp
Lacks projection but reaches mid-90s and commands three pitches.
9. Tyler Gonzales, rhp
2012 sandwich pick repeatedly touched 97, showed big league slider in spring.
10. Kevin Comer, rhp
Projectable athlete has good life on fastball, feel for secondary pitches.
Stroman, Smoral, and Gonzales were 2012 draft picks and cannot be traded unless they are the PTBL in an offseason deal, but it does give the Jays some depth to trade from. We also know how much Anthopoulos values draft picks and he'll be able to replenish his stock somewhat with expected compensation pick for Garza.
The Jays also have depth at CF in speedster and top defender Anthony Gose and all-around player Jake Marisnick. They also have plenty of catching. C Travis D'Arnaud is probably off limits, but the Jays also have defensive whiz AJ Jimenez at the AA level, who also has a chance to be a solid hitter, and Carlos Perez, who's a solid all-around catcher in low Class A. Padilla mentioned the Cubs were looking at 3B, but we do know that Theo Epstein values defense up the middle, something this team currently lacks right now in CF, though Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur and/or Albert Almora could change that down the road. As far as catcher goes, the Cubs have a pair of solid young catchers in Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger, but little immediate depth behind them if they don't pan out.
Anthropolous understands long term value as well as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do, but after a long term rebuilding project, it seems impatience is growing in Toronto, even among the players themselves. According to the Globe and Mail,
...days after pitcher Ricky Romero made clear getting help after the break was an open topic of conversation in the clubhouse, Bautista used the bully pulpit of the All-Star Game to make a subtle link between the duration of his contract and how it was a matter of common sense for the club to make a run at things.
In terms of fit, the Jays are perfect for the Cubs in terms of pitching and athletic, defensive players up the middle, while the Cubs can offer something few, if any, other teams can, a #2 starter with an extra year of cost control and the potential draft pick compensation that goes with it.
Will Anthopoulos finally pull the trigger here? Will one of those 10 teams scouting Dempster roll the dice on a short term rental and give the Cubs some young pitching in return?
We'll find out within the next 3 weeks.