Yanks interested in Dempster and probably every available pitcher

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2012 Draft: Yankees sign second rounder Austin Aune
Dempster said he’ll waive his 10-and-5 rights for a contender, but will he shave his beard for one? (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

If a columnist connects an available player to the Yankees, you can bet it will get widespread publication in the major baseball blogs. It wasn’t a surprise, then, to open up Hardball Talk and see the headline, “Yankees, Dodgers are interested in Ryan Dempster.” Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times stirred the drink here, writing that Dempster “is coveted by several would-be contenders, including the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.” Coveted? Really?

Two weeks ago we heard quite the opposite. Jon Heyman wrote that the Yankees have concerns about Dempster pitching in the American League. Since his debut as a 21-year-old for the Marlins in 1998, Dempster has pitched exclusively in the NL. The Yankees seemingly haven’t had success with pitchers who switch leagues, though Hiroki Kuroda has performed admirably this season. It does seem, as Heyman writes, that they’d prefer to trade for Dempster’s teammate Matt Garza, though Garza will be a bit more expensive since he’s still under team control for 2013.

Dempster has gotten off to a great start this season, allowing just 19 earned runs through 74 innings while striking out 63 to just 20 walks. His ground ball rate is down a bit, which is somewhat concerning. During his peak years of 2008 through 2010, when he produced a 3.49 ERA in 622 innings, his ground ball rate was around 47 percent, while it’s under 43 percent this year. And, again, the transition from the NL Central to the AL East is a significant one. That shouldn’t stop the Yankees from acquiring Dempster, but it should certainly limit the price they’re willing to pay.

The Yankees might have five starters going well right now, but as we’ve seen in years past, that can change at any time. In 2010 they had five starters pitching well when the Cliff Lee trade fell through, and it seemed like no big deal. But then Hughes’s performance worsened considerably. Javy Vazquez fell off a cliff. Andy Pettitte got hurt. And A.J. Burnett again turned in a poor summer performance. That is to say, a currently full pitching staff shouldn’t turn off the Yankees. With the rate at which situations change, they’d be fools to write off such a trade solely because they seem set in the moment.

This is no ringing endorsement of Dempster. Where he is, he’s fine. Great, you can even say this season. But move him out of his current environment and stick him in the AL East and it’s a different story. I think he can pitch well, but not nearly to the level he’s currently achieving. We’re talking more back-end starter. There could come a time between now and July when the Yankees might need such an arm. Getting Dempster for the right price will be tricky, but if they can figure out something with the Cubs then they should go ahead. There will inevitably be a need on the pitching staff later this season.

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2012 Draft: Yankees sign second rounder Austin Aune
  • RI$P FTW

    For what?

  • jjyank

    Pretty much my thoughts. I wouldn’t mind acquiring Dempster, but he’s not someboody I give up anything significant for…which means the Cubs probably don’t make that trade anyway.

  • All Praise Be To Mo

    I’d offer a mix of Warren/Marshall and other assorted pieces, no one really that good or projected to be so. If we can get him for that, great. If not, no big deal. With the new rule changes we wouldn’t even get comp picks for him when he leaves.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Agree. And a key piece for all trades this summer …

      With the new rule changes we wouldn’t even get comp picks for him when he leaves.

      This may have an effect on what teams are will to pay in terms of talent for all rental trades this summer.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Let Hughes and Nova pitch. Cut the BS.

    I don’t know what Nova did to constantly be on some bubble to lose his starting job. How the hell are you going to develop pitching if you don’t let them DEVELOP! He’s healthy and has pitched pretty well for the most part. We pine for every other team’s young starters, but ignore their warts and the fact that their teams had to deal with bouts of ineffectiveness from the young pitcher in order to get the most out of them.

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      Completely agree.

    • Bo Knows

      Thank you, completely agree 100%

    • RetroRob

      Who said Nova’s on the bubble? These are just stories. As Joe notes, the Yankees will be connected to everybody and everything, and they do have to explore all opportunities, but right now Nova and Hughes are quite safe in the rotation.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    Uh…no thanks.

  • RI$P FTW

    Are they going to send CC to AAA to make room?

  • dkidd

    no dempster diving

    • jjyank

      Well done.

  • yoo-boo

    I am fine with acquiring Dempster but it is not a good players’ property business.

    Since new CBA kicks in next month, Yanks wont get anything out of Dempster if he signs elsewhere. Plus, there is no way for Yanks to fork over some decent prospects for a rental player. Also, Yanks wont outdo other teams in trading for Dempster.

    Who will Yanks demote to bullpen to replace Freddy Garcia (assuming he is cut to open a spot)? Don’t insult Hughes and Nova, please. Sabby? LOL!

    Betances and Joseph for Dempster sound all right but Yanks can get someone better and cost controlled for that price.

    We should explore for LF help right now.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Yes, someone that can play LF while Gardner is out and potentially stick around if Swish is not signable (which appears very likely). Save the trade chips for someone like that. Or, if a pitcher, someone like Garza that has some sort of track record in the AL, preferably the AL East.

  • Rooting for U.S. Steel

    Count me among those wondering why we should be aggressive in the starting pitching market if we’re just talking about the remainder of 2012. We have five starters performing well. We have a long man in Garcia who, while not an optimal choice, can be slotted into a turn or two in the rotation.

    Phelps, who just got sent down, will need a little time to be stretched out, but that’s where Garcia comes in. And Ramon Ortiz at SWB would be the first starter I’d bring up in an emergency situation.

    The postseason is going to rely heavily on Sabathia and the two best of the other four starters (I’m not willing to reserve a place in the rotation for Kuroda – or anyone else – just yet). We’ve got options, and they’re not painful to contemplate.

    Strengthening depth in the minors is one thing, but I’d love to hear a solid argument for why we should go outside the organization and give up anything more than a few towels for a major league starter for this year’s campaign.

    • Steve (different one)

      Did you guys not read the post?

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Maybe the Yanks are just in on EVERYONE, to drive up the price to the rSox.

  • E-ROC

    At least Larry Rothschild is familiar with Ryan Dempster. That could only help, I guess. I see no need for the Yankees to acquire starting pitchers.

    • DM

      So is Girardi — who might be pushing for him like he did for Kerry Wood.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    No way do I want the Yankees trading for Dempster unless absolutely necessary. As in we have no internal options. AL East lineups are packed with guys who hit. The remainder of the Al only has a few weak sisters such as Seattle and Oakland. The Central division pounds the ball. If we have to trade for starting pitching, it will cost some decent farm hands. Because the pitcher acquired must have the ability to win in a hitting league.

    If we can’t secure a Garza or similar at reasonable cost than Mr. Phelps who was just sent down to stretch out, will get his big tryout opportunity as it should be.

  • rogue

    FWIW, I live and work in the Boston area. My friend and co-worker plays in a band that regularly performs at Red Sox events. He’s friends with Peter Gammons and Theo Epstein. In fact he’s in Chicago this weekend and is in the VIP section as Theo’s guest.

    What’s the point to all of this?

    My friend doubts that Epstein would ever deal with the Yankees. So, don’t hold your breath.

    • FIPster Doofus

      I doubt your friend’s doubt. If Epstein and Hoyer can get the best deal from the Yankees, they’ll take it. Why would the Cubs’ president hold a grudge against the Yankees?

      • DM

        Yeah, I doubt it too. If it’s a good deal for the Cubs, you do it. And if anything I don’t think Theo would shed a tear helping a Red Sox rival after his drama-filled tenure there.

    • RetroRob

      Epstein’s a smart guy and he now runs a team in the other league. He’ll make the best deal possible for the Cubs.

      I do see an issue that could make a deal between the Yankees and Cubs a problem, and it’s the relationship between Cashman and Epstein. While I’m sure they have respect for each other, they are also no doubt wary of each other, feeling the need to win any first trade made between the two. That could present a barrier higher than making a deal with another GM. It’s not uncommon for some teams more reguarly deals with the same teams because the GMs have a good relationship and a higher level of trust. The opposite can be true, and I can see that here, but I can’t see a “no deal ever” situation. In some ways, I can see both being fascinated by the prospect.