Buster Olney of ESPN.com first broke the rumor with the following tweet:
Source: The Red Sox are aggressive in the pursuit of Ryan Dempster. Cubs going through their process on the right-hander.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 16, 2012
It’s no secret the Red Sox could use an ace, but is Dempster the guy they should go after?
His numbers are ace-like this season with Chicago. In 14 games, he is 5-3 with a 1.86 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched.
While Dempster would obviously be a welcome addition to any staff this season, the Red Sox must seriously consider the cost it would take to pry him away from Theo Epstein’s Cubs.
Epstein has intimate knowledge of Boston’s farm system, and Dempster would not come cheap. But I don't believe he would cost the Red Sox a Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Matt Barnes type player.
In fact, if Epstein and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer demand any of those players, Ben Cherington should immediately hang up the phone. Dempster is 35 years old, and was recently on the DL with tightness in his pitching shoulder.
In spite of his age and recent injury, Dempster's last five starts have bolstered his trade value and has made him an intriguing veteran option for a playoff contender.
On June 15 Dempster pitched seven shutout innings as the Cubs beat the Red Sox 3-0.
His shutout streak is actually one for the record books. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, “Dempster is the fifth pitcher in the last 100 years to win five consecutive starts in the same season without allowing a run.”
Dempster's recent success has come at the perfect time for Epstein, who took on the task to rebuild the Cubs over the offseason, and his hot pitcher could become a perfect trade chip for him to start that rebuilding process.
Dempster has a no-trade clause, but has indicated he is willing to waive it. (h/t Newsday)
The Cubs want to build for the future, which means they will want a package of prospects. It also means the Red Sox could hold onto their veteran pitching corps.
With Dempster in the mix, the Red Sox rotation starts to look pretty scary:
Actually, the fifth starter role could be any combination of Doubront, Franklin Morales, Aaron Cook and (when healthy) Daisuke Matsuzaka.
With the offense starting to take shape with the return of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford (and soon Dustin Pedroia), the Red Sox may be in a position to make a run at the playoffs.
Dempster could be a huge weapon to have in the arsenal for that playoff run.
The big hitch in any trade-deadline deal is the health of David Ortiz, who injured his right Achilles while running the bases Monday night against the Chicago White Sox.
According to the Boston Herald:
Ortiz will undergo an MRI exam Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury, although manager Bobby Valentine said early indications are that he didn’t suffer a tear or strain. If the MRI confirms that diagnosis, it’s possible Ortiz could miss only a few games.
If the Red Sox get bad news on Ortiz, it makes no sense to trade away prospects for Dempster. Boston has overcome a lot this season to even be within striking distance of a playoff spot. Losing Ortiz could prove too much to overcome.
If the Red Sox get good news about the Achilles, and Ortiz only has to miss a few games, the Red Sox would be foolish to not at least consider a deal for Dempster.
The deal comes down to this: Are the Red Sox only one stud pitcher away from a deep playoff run? If you believe they are, this is a deal they should pull the trigger on.