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By Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor - Archive - Email
Trade winds starting to blow
Ryan Dempster is 5-3 with a major league best 1.86 ERA for the hapless Cubs.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball's non-waiver trade deadline is less than two weeks away, and we are already starting to hear the rumors. Actually we have been hearing the rumors for a while now, but as we get closer to 3 p.m. (EDT) on July 31, they start to take on a little more credibility.

The name you keep hearing most prominently is Chicago Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster. In fact, some reports have stated that the Cubs would like to ship him out by this weekend.

Dempster, who is scheduled to pitch Friday in St. Louis, has been terrific for Chicago this season, going 5-3 with a major league best 1.86 ERA for the hapless Cubs. His stock may not be any higher than it is right now, as he has won his last five starts and hasn't allowed a run in his past 33 innings.

So, there are plenty of suitors, perhaps as many as 10 teams who have called Theo Epstein. But, Dempster will be allowed to pick and choose where he finishes his season since he has his 10-5 rights.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the team you keep hearing the loudest with regards to Dempster and with Chad Billingsley currently sidelined with some arm pain, it makes sense.

Boston is also interested in the righty, but I will go on record right now in saying that would be a huge mistake on both sides. Dempster has spent his entire 15-year career in the National League. A move to the American League would be a disaster.

The reason Dempster has become so attractive is because the biggest chip potentially on the market, Philadelphia lefty Cole Hamels, appears to be staying put.

At least for the moment.

The Phillies are 9 1/2 games out of a playoff spot as we head into action on Wednesday. If we learned anything from the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays last year, it's that anything can happen. And with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay all back from the disabled list, general manager Ruben Amaro may not be so crazy in thinking his team still has a shot.

Realistically, though, the Phils are 11 games back in the loss column of Pittsburgh and Atlanta for the two wild card spots. That's not so much of a problem as the number of teams that the Phils would have to jump to get there.

There are also reports that the Phillies are going to make a last ditch effort to sign Hamels long-term before the trade deadline. How that goes could also go a long way in deciding Amaro's mind.

I've always maintained the move there should be to re-sign Hamels and deal Cliff Lee this offseason for a bat.

Heck, I'd even consider shipping Lee out now. See if Texas is interested again. The Rangers could use another starter and by all accounts Lee enjoyed his time there before. And lo and behold they have exactly what the Phillies are looking for; a young third baseman who can hit for power in minor leaguer Mike Olt.

One player the Phillies could potentially move no matter what is outfielder Shane Victorino, who like Hamels, will also be a free agent at the end of the year.

Pittsburgh, the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves could all use some outfield help, but they will likely check in first with the Arizona Diamondbacks, who for some reason are shopping 24-year-old outfielder Justin Upton.

Why Arizona is willing to give up on Upton so fast is beyond me. Sure, he's having a bad year and is grumbling a bit, but he was an MVP candidate last year and is under contract for the next three seasons at reasonable money.

Upton makes a ton of sense for the Pirates, who have Andrew McCutchen and that's about it offensively. That could be as dynamic a duo as there is in the league if they are paired together.

With Brett Gardner out for the year the Yanks could also make a play for Upton. A move for Upton may seem drastic for a team that is already 22 games over .500, but keep in mind Nick Swisher is a free agent at season's end and the team has a $13 million club option on Curtis Granderson for 2013.

A move for Upton makes just as much sense for the Yankees long-term as it does in the short-term. Plus it would allow the Yanks to use Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones strictly in a DH role.

The talk leading up to the deadline is what makes the MLB trade deadline so exciting. Rarely does it live up to anything, though, and now with the extra playoff spot, teams are less willing to sell so early.


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