Dodgers Reportedly Move On From Ryan Dempster To Matt Garza

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Dodgers are now “very unlikely” to land Ryan Dempster, but it seems like the team is still in on the chase.

The Dodgers are “very unlikely” to trade for Dempster according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). They prefer not to trade prospects for a rental, making Matt Garza a more logical target.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Dempster sweepstakes is currently down to the Braves, Nationals, and Cardinals.

So what now?

Well the Dodgers have reportedly moved on to Dempster’s teammate on the Cubs, Matt Garza.

The Dodgers don’t want to surrender prospects for a rental and are “very unlikely” to acquire Ryan Dempster, but Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that they have shifted their focus to Matt Garza. Los Angeles had a deal on the table to acquire Dempster yesterday but it was not consummated.

Why the shift?

One possibility is that the overwhelming interest in Dempster has changed his price and the Dodgers don’t want to go further than what they have already put on the table. However, part of me wonders if this was influenced by the team’s recent struggles and Cole Hamels appearing to be close to agreeing to an extension. In other words, the Dodgers seem intent on getting a rotation contributor beyond 2012 now, perhaps because their plan was to get Dempster at a cheaper rate than Garza and then sign Hamels in the off-season. However, if that scenario is no longer on the table, it raises questions about both how they would improve the rotation in 2012 and how they would add a quality arm for 2013 and beyond.

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Of course, it could just be because Garza is the more valuable asset on the table. Despite their ERA difference (which doesn’t measure pitcher worth, IMO), Dempster isn’t actually a superior pitcher, generally speaking.

Dempster is suppressing his HR rate at close to career best numbers, while Garza’s HR rate is by far his career high.

While FIP is a wonderful tool for determining what actually happened within the pitcher’s control, xFIP and SIERA are better tools for projecting future performance, as they normalize HR rate. So assuming these 100 innings or so don’t represent some type of skill change in the two pitchers, it’s not out of line to say Garza is the better bet going forward.

Garza is a 2.5-3.5 WAR pitcher, plus an extra year of team control in 2013, putting him around 4.5 WAR of value. Dempster is around the same skill level, but without the extra year of control, so he’s worth about 1.0-1.5 WAR. The preference change makes sense in terms of asset value for every team, but in the Dodgers situation it may make more sense than for most. Like any other trade though, it depends on the eventual price on the Dodgers end.

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