Though the baseball blogosphere had already digested and moved on from an afternoon trade report from MLB.com's Mark Bowman, the Cubs staff ace scratched a major record needle on the deal by showing up to PNC Park on Monday afternoon and putting on a Cubs uniform for the night's game against the Pirates.
"THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!" read Dempster's Twitter account (@RyanDempsterFDN).
"If it's on the Internet it must be true," Dempster then told media on the scene before saying he didn't want to discuss any rumor that had him wearing an Atlanta Braves uniform any time in the near future.
And that's where we stand now with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting that the deal only awaits Dempster's stamp of approval.
Though nothing in Bowman's initial report has been disproven — he simply wrote that a deal between the Braves and Cubs was in place but had yet to become official — it appears that Dempster is willing to wield the power he holds as a veteran. Dempster can veto any deal as a 10/5 player and perhaps he and his agent are holding out as a means to either force a trade to a more preferable destination (the Dodgers?) or to see if Atlanta is open to signing him to an extension before he agrees to pack his bags and head south.
That's Dempster's right, of course, but it has created at least a little drama. The Cubs are one of the few bona fide sellers and it would seem that this is Epstein and Hoyer's time to shine with several sellable arms on their roster. The Dempster domino was presumably going to be the first one to fall, though a possible Matt Garza trade to the Dodgers was also reportedly being discussed.
Update: Here's Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez via Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "I know what you guys know. Well, a little bit more ... We're in a holding pattern."
Update No. 2: Cubs manager Dale Sveum calls the deal a "fabrication."
- Ryan Dempster
- Theo Epstein