The Chicago Cubs might have sensed Ryan Dempster's heart was not in Atlanta, or rather more preferably in Los Angeles. Over the course of Monday and Tuesday, when they apparently had a deal to send Dempster to the Braves, the Cubs kept after the Los Angeles Dodgers on a potential trade for the right-hander.
The Dodgers have resisted including the best of their prospects for what amounts to a couple months of Dempster. Therefore, as the Dodgers' leverage increased, a trade with the Braves remained for another day in limbo, awaiting Dempster's permission.
While Dempster wields his 10-and-5 rights, and as his start Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh beckoned, neither the Braves nor Dempster seemed in a particular hurry to have a decision.
Dempster told Chicago writers Tuesday he would continue to measure his options for as long as he saw fit, that perhaps being a stall tactic to flush out a trade to the Dodgers. The trading deadline is next Tuesday.
He tweeted Tuesday: "Nothing official to report. You will be the 1st to know. Thnx to all my fans for the support."
Later, he told reporters, "I have a pretty good idea of where I want to go."
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Braves general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "It's not dead. The way we view it is, we are continuing to pursue all pitching opportunities and if this deal materializes, we have the framework of a deal with the Chicago Cubs."
So, in the wake of the agreement to trade the veteran Dempster to the Braves for 22-year-old right-hander Randall Delgado, the Cubs talk to the Dodgers, and the Braves consider other options. They could engage the Milwaukee Brewers on Zack Greinke or the Philadelphia Phillies on Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee, if either comes available, or the Miami Marlins on Josh Johnson. Toward that end, Braves scout Jim Fregosi was front and center Tuesday night in Milwaukee, watching Greinke.
And then …
• The Diamondbacks traded Ryan Roberts to the Tampa Bay Rays for infielder Tyler Bortnick. Joe Maddon loves himself a versatile player. While Roberts hasn't had quite the offensive season he did in 2011, he'll still be valuable for the Rays.
• Hanley Ramirez was back in the Marlins' lineup Tuesday night, an occasion that coincided with the Marlins' decision to consider trade proposals for the 28-year-old third baseman/shortstop. Asked how aggressively the Marlins were shopping Ramirez, a National League executive whose club has interest in Ramirez responded, "Moderate." Ramirez missed four games while healing from inflammation in his right hand, which came from an infection, which came from a wound, which came from striking a cooling fan in the dugout.
• While being linked to some of the bigger names on the market, and they have engaged on Dempster, the Dodgers seek a starter for the middle to back end of their rotation. Their priority continues to be a corner-infield bat or two.
• The Pittsburgh Pirates were close Tuesday night to acquiring Houston Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who is 7-9 with a 3.79 ERA after losing the night before to the Cincinnati Reds, for three minor leaguers. Rodriguez is under contract for $13 million in 2013 with a $13 million option for 2014 that becomes guaranteed with the trade. The Astros will cover a large portion of that. MLB.com was the first to report the Pirates and Astros were nearing the deal. In his career, Rodriguez is 8-10 with a 4.42 ERA in 26 starts against the Reds, and 6-11 with a 3.79 ERA in 21 games – 20 starts – against the St. Louis Cardinals. In less than three weeks, new GM Jeff Luhnow has traded Carlos Lee, Brandon Lyon, J.A. Happ, Brett Myers and Rodriguez, making the Astros younger, cheaper and more anonymous. The Pirates remain on the lookout for a corner outfielder.
[Jeff Passan: Deadline trade tracker and analysis]
• The Rays are fielding inquiries on James Shields, who'd fall in behind the likes of Greinke, Dempster, Hamels and Johnson on the trading deadline depth chart. Shields hasn't had the season he had last year, when he threw 11 complete games and was third in the AL Cy Young voting.
• On Hamels, the Phillies continue to negotiate a long-term contract extension, which is the information inquiring clubs are receiving so far. Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and others could be had, however.
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