Chicago Sun-Times
with sports reporters Chris De Luca and Gordon Wittenmyer

Braves pursue Cubs' Dempster as pitcher readies for Wednesday start

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PITTSBURGH - Multiple reports say the Atlanta Braves are closing in on a trade for Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, and a source acknowledged the Braves were strongly pursuing the right-hander Monday.

A second source said a trade for Dempster was not expected to be completed Monday night.

The reports came as news to an irritated Dempster - who has full no-trade rights -- when he awoke from a nap Monday, and he responded with a tweet from his Dempster Foundation account that read: ``THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!''

When he got to the clubhouse at PNC Park, he declined to talk about what he and the club referred to as ``speculation.''

``There is nothing to report,'' said Cubs' assistant general manager Randy Bush, who is representing the front office on the Pittsburgh trip with team president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer back in Chicago.

Nothing in the works?

``There is nothing to report,'' Bush repeated. ``There's no news. I don't know how things like this get out there. ... Obviously, we're having a lot of trade discussions with a lot of teams.''

Talks with the Braves Monday appeared to center on 22-year-old right-hander Randall Delgado (5-10, 3.98 in 24 career big-league starts over the last 13 months).

Dempster has about $5.8 million left on the final year of his contract. Despite reports suggesting Dempster seeks an extension to approve a trade, a source close to Dempster strongly refutes that.

And manager Dale Sveum, who talked to upper management after also being caught off-guard by Monday's reports, said he was told reports about an agreement with Atlanta awaiting only Dempster's approval also were false.

``I found out about it after I came in off the field from early BP and somebody said they saw it on the website,'' Sveum said. ``I got on the website and saw it and obviously called the higher-ups to make sure. And they're like, `No, nothing's happened.' I don't know where that came from. ...

``I think we all know there can be a trade,'' he added. ``But the [specific Atlanta deal], the whole thing, was news to me. The team obviously is the one that leaked it out - or it came out of their city. But obviously we can't sit here and say it can't happen. Anything can happen at this point; we have eight days till the deadline. All the teams that are involved in wanting or needing starters are in play, there's no question.''

That prominently included the Los Angeles Dodgers - the team Dempster is believed to prefer - until focus shifted toward the Braves in the last two days.

The Braves are one of the teams Dempster is believed willing to consider waiving his rights to join. He said as recently as this past weekend that the priority is a chance to win.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have begun looking harder at Matt Garza, even after the right-hander was forced from Saturday's start because of a triceps cramp near his pitching elbow. The Dodgers like the idea of having control over the younger, harder-throwing pitcher beyond this year with a chance to sign him to an extension, said one source.

The Braves and Dodgers also have top scouts in Philadelphia this week for the return to the Milwauke rotation of Zack Greinke on Tuesday.

Garza won't make his next start any earlier than Saturday because of the elbow, Sveum said, but Garza and the team remain optimistic the injury isn't serious and he'll avoid the DL.

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This page contains a single entry by Gordon Wittenmyer published on July 23, 2012 6:54 PM.

Cubs' Garza says elbow cramp better, could have start pushed back was the previous entry in this blog.

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