Brewers trade rumors: Ryan Dempster a possible target

Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's not a big rumor, but it's out there.

This is a small rumor. Like, closer to speculation small. But it's out there, and it's interesting, if annoying.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe included this tidbit in his weekend roundup column:

About eight teams, including the Red Sox, have inquired about Hudson, who is recovering from an ankle injury. The Red Sox would love to have him on a two-year deal similar to Ryan Dempster’s. The Sox must feel they can deal Dempster (Milwaukee has always had interest) and Jake Peavy if they have to, but the pitcher teams have begun to ask about is John Lackey.

Emphasis mine. Frustration mine.

Cafardo is absolutely right, of course, the Brewers have really liked Ryan Dempster for a while. They did push hard to sign him last offseason, going so far as to offer him a two-year deal. At the time Dempster was still pretty set on a third year, but ended up signing a two-year contract with the Red Sox. Milwaukee instead signed Kyle Lohse to a three year contract (much) later in the offseason.

It's not clear whether Cafardo has gotten wind of the Brewers actually showing a twinge of interest or if it's just a best-guess on a team that may be willing to trade for Dempster. But the Brewers are certainly not going to rule out acquiring a pitcher this offseason. Pitching rules the roost in the MLB, and Milwaukee isn't flush with sure-things.

You may prefer that the Brewers rock with what they have and try out the young arms. I may prefer the Brewers do that. But team management is in this perpetual state of believing they can compete and, dammit, maybe they can. But will trading for Ryan Dempster even help that cause?

Dempster is a fairly bad pitcher that has a good year every now and then. Through his first five seasons with the Marlins and Reds, he had a 5.01 ERA but one decent season at a 3.66 ERA. Then he signed with the Cubs got moved to relief for a few years and had some ups and downs before returning to the rotation and being awesome in 2008, finishing sixth in Cy Young voting. He was alright for three of the next four years, was awesome in the first half of 2012, then got traded to the Rangers and fell apart. The Red Sox then signed him and he had a 4.57 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 2013. He pitched just three games in relief in the postseason for the World Series champions.

The Brewers rotation is far from a sure thing at this point. Even Yovani Gallardo is a question mark at this point. Kyle Lohse is maybe the only guy the Brewers can really rely on for consistent starts. After those two, Wily Peralta and Marco Estrada will be starting games next year. That leaves one spot for Tyler Thornburg/Johnny Hellweg/Jimmy Nelson/whoever else. It's not ideal, especially for a team that likely wants to compete, but there can be a lot of net positive in getting some of those guys experience rather than a Ryan Dempster.

Of course this whole thing is probably pretty theoretical. The Red Sox apparently really want to sign Tim Hudson, but that seems like more or less a lateral move from Jake Peavy and/or Dempster. And the Brewers payroll may not allow them to actually acquire Dempster, either. He's owed $13.25 million in 2014. While it's just one year, that's already possibly more than the Brewers have altogether and they still need a first baseman at the very least.

Still, there's a snippet about it out there and it's still early, so that snippet could turn into something. Or Ryan Dempster could be analogous for any Ryan Dempster-like pitcher on the market. Not the best idea. Not right now.

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