GM: Interest in Ryan Dempster

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said Thursday that the club has discussed the possibility of bringing back free agent right-hander Ryan Dempster, but said those talks are in their infancy.

The Cubs are interested in signing at least two free agent pitchers this offseason to similar deals as the one Paul Maholm signed last offseason with the team. Maholm took over a rotation spot on a two-year deal, but was moved at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline to the Atlanta Braves.

"I don't want to comment specifically, but there has been contact with him certainly," Hoyer said Thursday of Dempster. "But in general, I don't want to characterize interest because next thing you know it's a story that the Cubs are all over Dempster. But Ryan does fit that (Maholm model) really well."

Hoyer went on to reiterate that not too much should be read into the early discussions about Dempster.

"Characterizing that interest at this point, there has been contact and it was preliminary," Hoyer said. "There are a lot of players that we'll end up expressing interest (in), so I wouldn't overcharacterize it and have it be the lead story. But listen, he pitched well here for a long time. People in Chicago really respect what he did here, and they should, but obviously there's a mutual respect there."

Hoyer was vague when asked how the talks started.

"Actually, it was sort of a bump-into thing," he said, suggesting that Dempster and a member of the front office happened upon each other recently.

Dempster's full-time home is in Chicago and he has been seen around town this offseason. He was a celebrity coach for the "Champs for Charity" hockey game that featured NHL players last Friday at Allstate Arena.

There was plenty of speculation this past season that the relationship between Dempster and the Cubs' front office soured at the non-waiver trade deadline. Dempster rejected a trade to the Braves that could have brought back highly coveted pitching prospect Randall Delgado.

He then went to the Texas Rangers at the final hour of the deadline for a pair of Single-A players in pitcher Kyle Hendricks and third baseman Christian Villanueva.

"That was an interesting week in the history of the Cubs and the life of Ryan Dempster for sure, but at the same time there was no hard feelings at all and it wouldn't preclude us from bringing him back at all," Hoyer said.