The Chicago Cubs are either unbelievably unlucky or they're being very protective of one of their most-valuable players heading into the July 31 trade deadline. The Cubs have reportedly placed starting pitcher Ryan Dempster on the 15-day disabled list (DL) with latissimus dorsi tightness in the back of his right shoulder. Dempster has a 3-3 record with a 2.11 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 12 starts in 2012. He finished June with a 3-0 record and 22 scoreless innings.
The Cubs are amongst the few teams who are expected to be sellers at this season's trade deadline. Matt Garza and Dempster are both considered amongst their most-valuable trade assets. The Los Angeles Dodgers had reportedly gotten more aggressive in their pursuit of Dempster. This was before he was placed on the disabled list. The Toronto Blue Jays are another team who have scouted Dempster.
What does this mean for Dempster's trade value as the trade deadline approaches? I'm not as concerned about this injury as much as that this is his second stint on the DL since mid-April. Dempster was placed on the 15-day DL with a right quadriceps strain on April 21. He returned in early-May.
How much will a team offer for a 35-year-old pitcher who is bound to "Regress to the mean" during the second half of the season? This could be a half-season rental. Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay has been sidelined for six-to-eight weeks with a strained latissmus dorsi muscle. The Cubs are fortunate because this hasn't been diagnosed as any kind of strain; just tightness.
This will hopefully be nothing more than a precautionary move. There's no point in aggravating any possible injuries. However, I'm not buying the theory that Dempster is completely healthy. That's because any team who acquires him would be guaranteed at least three fewer starts than they would've been before he was put on the DL. The big question is how Dempster will fare in his first start off the DL. That should occur in early-July. Teams may shy away from Dempster if he has a poor outing. He'd have less than one month to reprove himself before the trade deadline.
The Cubs are expected to recall Scott Maine from Triple-A Iowa to join the bullpen. Randy Wells will be reinserted into the starting rotation. Wells should start in the series finale against the Chicago White Sox on June 20. This could be a permanent move if Dempster is traded once he's eligible to return from the disabled list.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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