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Epstein defends Dempster over Braves deal

CHICAGO -- Although the Chicago Cubs did not get top-market value for pitcher Ryan Dempster in his trade to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, there is no disconnect between the pitcher and his former front office.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said on Wednesday that Dempster should not be blamed for the team not landing 22-year-old Randall Delgado, the Braves’ top young pitcher, in a trade that was agreed upon by both teams last week. The deal fell apart by Dempster waiting to make a decision to approve the trade as a 10-5 player.

Epstein told Dempster in advance that he may have to make a decision on the Braves’ offer a few days in advance of the agreement on July 23 .

“ ’I know you have been thinking about it. Keep thinking about (the Braves) for a couple of days,’ “ Epstein said he told Dempster. “Then the story leaked and Ryan never got the opportunity for more than an hour to fully contemplate Atlanta with the deal actually in place.”

Dempster was told by the media covering the Cubs that the trade was already on the Braves’ website.

“I feel for him,” Epstein said. “He didn’t have time to contemplate it, and he had everyone telling him what to do. It became a nuisance for him. I think it is really hard to be critical of Ryan, but he certainly wasn’t blindsided because we had been telling him for days that Atlanta was a very likely destination and pretty soon we would have to (move) on our position and make a final decision.”

Epstein said it was unfair that Dempster, whose top choice was the Los Angeles Dodgers, did not have a period of contemplation before the story spread.

“We were on great terms throughout the process,” Epstein said. “We laughed about it and joked about it. In the end we he came to our office and heard the conversation with (the Dodgers). He realized, ‘OK, maybe that is not going to happen so let me consider a couple of other places.’ The deal got done with three minutes left.”

The Cubs got Single-A prospects Kyle Hendricks and Christian Villanueva from Texas in exchange for Dempster.

Asked to clarify if Dempster vetoed the initial Braves deal, Epstein said: “He didn’t say no , he said ‘not now.’ So he did not technically say no. He said I am not going to go to Atlanta until I see about L.A . Atlanta very reasonably didn’t want to wait around and risk not getting a pitcher. He said not now. He had a clear No. 1, and he wanted to see that through, and I don’t hold that against him.”