According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Texas Rangers have acquired Ryan Dempster from the Chicago Cubs in exchange for third base prospect Christian Villanueva and pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks. After Dempster was connected to almost every team in baseball over the last 72 hours, the Rangers emerged out of relatively nowhere to snag what should prove to be a great addition to a team that would like nothing more than to return to the World Series in 2012.
While reaping the benefits of some good fortune (low BABIP, high strand rate), Dempster has been fantastic for the Cubs this season, putting up the lowest ERA among starting pitchers in all of baseball. With velocity declining on his fastball, the 35 year old right handed hurler has relied on his slider and splitter more frequently this season while walking a fewer percentage of batters than he has at any other point of his career.
He’s not the front line starter that his ERA might suggest, but with a normalized HR/FB rate, the consistency of his xFIP is outstanding. The last five years looks something like this:
- 2008: 3.69
- 2009: 3.76
- 2010: 3.74
- 2011: 3.70
- 2012: 3.71
For the Rangers, Dempster represents a rental player, as he will most likely become a free agent at season’s end. The once formidable starting rotation in Texas has fallen on tough times due to injury, more injury and a couple of pitchers coming back down to earth. To put things into perspective, over the last month, Scott Feldman has been the team’s best starting pitcher, by a good measure.
The addition of Dempster means they can give more time to Roy Oswalt to get back to where he needs to be with some time in the bullpen, while further strengthening the team’s relief corps by allowing Ron Washington to use Alexi Ogando as a reliever instead of a starter. Once all of their pitchers are healthy, the Rangers will boast the best staff in baseball, which bodes well for yet another extended playoff run from the team.
For the Cubs, Villanueva is a very good pick up. The 21-year old was ranked the 100th best prospect in the league coming into this season, and his .285/.356/.421 slash line at Class A Myrtle Beach hasn’t disappointed. Hendricks is a 22-year old right-hander who plays at Myrtle Beach. He was selected in the eighth round of the 2011 draft, and since becoming a professional has a remarkable 7.14 K/BB ratio.
Both are certainly nice prospects, but overall, this probably hurts the Cubs a little bit, considering what they could have had from the deal they had previously worked out with the Atlanta Braves involving Randall Delgado before it fell through.