Ryan Dempster

Teams looking for starting pitching down the stretch could certainly do worse than Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster. And despite owning full no-trade rights based on having 10 years of service time and the last five with the same team, Dempster sounds like he'd at least consider leaving the friendly confines.

Dempster is in the final year of a four-year contract -- after exercising a $14-million option this offseason -- and will be a sought-after free agent come November. But with the Cubs mired in a 10-game losing streak and sporting just a 15-30 record, he'll be one of the prettiest girls at the ball as we move toward the trade deadline.

Because of the added wild card, most expect fewer teams to be sellers at the trade deadline, making the bidding for those on the market perhaps even more intense. The Cubs are likely to be one of the few teams without even a glimmer of hope to steal the final postseason bids, so Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein should be getting plenty of phone calls. And Dempster knows that as well.

"I'm not an idiot. I know how things go," Dempster told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "I know how it goes with players in contract years and the team not necessarily doing like they're supposed to be doing, there's always a possibility of things. There's a possibility of being traded anytime."

While he could block any trade, Dempster didn't rule out going elsewhere if asked.

"If it's something they want to approach me with, then I'll have to cross that bride when I get to it," Dempster told the Sun-Times.

Trading the 35-year-old during the season is also more appealing to the Cubs in part because of the new rules regarding draft pick compensation for free agents. Chicago would have to offer him at the very least a one-year, $12.3 million deal and have him turn it down to get a compensatory pick. That's quite a bit of risk for a team that is in its current position and looking to get younger and rebuild its minor-league system. Also, basic econ says more buyers and fewer sellers means an inflated market, bringing higher prices. A bidding war at the deadline -- or even a preemptive strike from an overzealous suitor before the All-Star break -- could bring back significant returns.

While Dempster sports an 0-3 record through eight starts, it's hardly been his fault. He has a 2.14 ERA and a 1.061 WHIP in 54 2/3 innings. Since moving from the bullpen to the rotation for the 2008 season, Dempster has thrown at least 200 innings in each of the past four seasons and has a 3.81 ERA over those four seasons to go along with a 53-41 record.

As for which team could use Dempster -- well, few teams wouldn't at this point. You can bet both American League East superpowers would be interested.

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