PITTSBURGH -- This Ryan Dempster situation was supposed to be so simple.
The veteran of nine seasons in a Chicago Cubs uniform was expected to leave the team this month, land a pitching prospect to help the team in the future and then return to the Cubs as a free agent this offseason.
It could have been as easy as 1-2-3.
As it turns out, real life sometimes gets in the way. Dempster has -- for now -- effectively blocked a trade to the Atlanta Braves, and because of an information leak, Cubs fans know they are being deprived of highly-regarded pitcher Randall Delgado as a return piece.
Suddenly, the previously beloved Dempster is being lambasted on social media by a vocal contingent of the Cubs’ fan base. And the guy who has given his heart and soul to the Cubs now has his loyalty in question.
Dempster has a Twitter account but said he has tried to steer clear of the fan criticism. He has heard it, though.
“It makes it harder when something that wasn’t supposed to be public knowledge becomes public knowledge, especially before I even knew it was public knowledge,” Dempster said. “That’s when it gets harder is when you get everybody’s opinions of what is going on and it really isn’t what was going on or what took place. You don’t really get to focus your full attention on what you’re trying to do you have to focus on everybody’s perception of what is going on.”
Despster’s first choice at a landing spot has widely been reported to be in Los Angeles to play for the Dodgers. The Braves were believed to be his second choice.
The concern now, though, is whether or not the Braves will still be interested in making a deal before next week’s deadline if something still can’t be worked out with the Dodgers. And if a Braves deal is revisited, will they still be offering Delgado in return? In addition, the Cubs’ leverage with the Dodgers is lessened now that his desire to play there has become so clear.
Dempster has every right to veto a trade through his 10-and-5 rights (10 years in the league, at least five consecutive with the same club) and the Cubs have complete respect for that right.
“That’s what the 10-and-5 rule is for is that if anything does come about you have the right and ability to take your time and make the decisions that are right for you and your family,” manager Dale Sveum said.
Assistant general manager Randy Bush, who is with the club in Pittsburgh, has no issue with Dempster exercising his rights either.
“We all have tremendous respect for Ryan, not only that he has earned those rights but what he has meant to this organization and the type of person that he is,” Bush said.
Not everybody is as understanding. Among the comments about Dempster on Twitter are hopes that he hurts his arm, that he has suddenly developed an attitude and that he is a liar.
“That’s fine; people can say what they want to say,” Dempster said. “All I know is that when I put my uniform on, I give 100 percent to the Cubs and I think that’s all you can really ask whether you are a player, a coach, in the front office or a fan of the team. If all the players did that you’d be pretty happy.”