It looks possible that the Yankees may end up making a big splash at the trade deadline after all as Bob Nightengale of the USA Today has reported that they are engaged in heavy disussions with the Cubs about Ryan Dempster.
A few other sources have dumped cold water on this possibility, but as Joel Sherman of the NY Post points out – the Yankees’ pitching coach Larry Rothschild and team adviser Jim Hendry both have a history with Dempster so it makes sense on that level. It’s also possible that Nightengale has a better source on this than others.
Either way, a trade for Dempster only makes sense for the Yankees if Andy Pettitte‘s setback is worse than they are letting on. The Yankees current rotation including Freddy Garcia has done a solid job and David Phelps has shown that he can be a solid fill in if necessary. Assuming Pettitte comes back before the playoffs there really is no need for an upgrade here.
There are a number of reasons to think that Dempster isn’t a good fit for the Yankees even if there was a rotational need. For one thing, his ground ball percentage has dropped every year since 2005 and Phil Hughes can explain why fly ball pitchers don’t work in the Bronx.
Then there is Dempster’s 2.34 ERA which is impressive except that it is much better than his career number of 4.31 and his .242 BABIP against suggests that he is getting lucky. Throw in a move from the much weaker National League to the American League East and it seems like he is in for some severe regression.
Still, if the Yankees get him cheaply then the next two or three months might be a decent try-out for a contract for next season.