Ryan Dempster has been with the Cubs since 2004 and is in his ninth season with the team. He has earned 87 saves and won 57 games while earning about $70 million with the Cubs. He is a fan favorite and a clubhouse gem, perhaps best known for his Harry Carey impression for those outside of Chicago.
In other words, he’s a perfect victim for a Greek tragedy.
It seemed as if Dempster had accepted his fate as trade bait. Jim Bowden of ESPN (Insider required) has been saying practically all year that Dempster is ready for a trade, having put his house on the market. Ken Rosenthall of Fox Sports reported that Dempster would accept a trade to several teams, and that the Braves were his second choice, only behind the Dodgers. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times said the Cubs’ front office had kept in touch with Dempster during the process.
By all standards, Dempster was ready to go.
On Monday morning, the Internet and Twitter were abuzz with talk of Ryan Dempster and a trade that would send him to the Braves. Bits and pieces seeped out, including the fact that Randall Delgado, one of Atlanta’s most treasured arms (whose stock had fallen a bit), was part of the deal. Cubs fans were giddy. This was a huge return for a guy they knew was going to be traded since his Opening Day start. They knew the reality. They accepted that one of their favorites was going to go. The only problem was, he wasn’t ready.
The trade was all but official, but then it hit a snag. No one was sure what it was: did they need MLB approval, or Dempster’s? Then it became abundantly clear. It’s not entirely certain what has happened since then, but it appears that at some point, someone from the Cubs’ front office talked to Dempster and asked if he would accept the trade. It appears that he responded by asking if a trade with the Dodgers was still a possibility, and if they could work toward a deal with Los Angeles, and that he won’t accept the trade to the Braves at this time, but maybe after thinking about it.
Such a hefty return for a player that wasn’t expected to fetch much more than a fringe top 100 guy got fans excited, but the trade is in limbo now, with no resolution in sight. Dempster hasn’t said yes or no to the Braves, a team he seemed fine with being traded to just a week ago. So now Cub fans are wondering what is going on. He seemed ready to go: his house was on the market, he seemed to accept his fate as a trade chip, and he told the front office where he wanted to go and where he didn’t. Everything lined up, but he still said no. That’s when the backlash started.
Trades don’t happen in a vacuum. They happen in a world surrounded by reporters, sources, and leaks from front offices. Ideally, things would have worked like they did with Ichiro’s trade to the Yankees, where nothing came out until everything was done and he was changing dugouts. But reporters are gonna report, sources are gonna source, and leaks are gonna leak. Things like this often lead to shifts in thinking in front offices when dealing with the press, but reporters, Twitter, or any other media outlet deserve absolutely zero blame for doing their job. This is not the media’s fault.
Now Cub fans are waiting for Dempster like Packer fans were with Brett Favre. They just want a decision. They just want Randall Delgado. They just want for his trade value not to be shattered. They just want him to go to a contender. They just want him to accept a trade to a team that seemingly met all his demands.
Ryan has every right to shoot down the trade, to request a trade to another team, or to stay with the Cubs. It’s up to him. The Cubs tried to appease him with this trade, but it doesn’t appear to be enough.
So now a fan base is mad at a fan favorite. All they want is for him to be happy, and for their favorite team to get a great prospect like Delgado in return.
It makes me want to vomit, just like a perfect Greek tragedy.