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CHICAGO -- After pitching six shutout innings Saturday in a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks to extend his scoreless innings streak to 33, Chicago Cubs starter Ryan Dempster could not avoid questions about his seemingly inevitable departure from the organization.
With a little more than two weeks until baseball's trade deadline, 10 teams have shown legitimate interest in acquiring Dempster's services for the remainder of the season, according to industry sources. Those clubs include the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves.
Major league sources said Sunday that the Tigers have asked about two other Cubs in starter Matt Garza and second baseman Darwin Barney.
Garza certainly increased his value by throwing seven shutout innings against the Diamondbacks on Sunday. The Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, Tigers, Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates all had scouts watching the righty.
The Cubs have started, in earnest, to look at minor league players at the lower levels of almost every farm system. The organization is looking for young pitching in return for its veteran players, but according to a baseball source who has inquired about trading with the Cubs, a well regarded third-base prospect is also very high on their wish list.
While Dempster's entire body of work this season has made him a valuable commodity, Saturday's start proved he can get hitters out without having his best command or arsenal of pitches. Dempster (5-3) allowed four hits and set a career best by winning his fifth straight start. He leads the majors with a 1.86 ERA.Dempster matched the scoreless innings mark by Ken Holtzman in 1969. It's the longest such streak in the majors this season, and according to Elias Sports Bureau, Dempster is the fifth pitcher in the last 100 years to win five straight starts in the same season without allowing a run.
"You see a guy like that struggle with command and pace, (but) at the same time get all the important outs," an American League scout said. "Dempster makes it easy for me to call my GM and say, 'Get this guy now because he has such a great sense of how to get the job done (and) he will help you win each time he goes out there.' "
As ESPNChicago.com previously reported, a major league source has indicated that an agreement between Theo Epstein and Dempster in a meeting that took place in early June assures the pitcher control of where he will play the rest of the season if he is traded. Dempster has 10-5 rights that allow him to veto any trade.
After nearly nine seasons in Chicago, Saturday's start felt like the end of an era at Wrigley. Dempster, however, tried to approach it like any other outing.
"I really did not think of it that way, but there is that thought and that possibility (of a trade)," Dempster said. "At the same time, you kind of stay in the moment of pitching in the game."
Teammates are aware that the affable team leader could be heading elsewhere very soon.
"He was one of those guys that really helped me out when I came up to the big leagues," said Barney. "He is a leader and just a great guy to be around. When he is not throwing, he is always helping the team out because he is easy going and he is happy and he has a lot of fun. He is just that guy that would be tough to lose."
With Saturday's win, Dempster improved to 5-3 on the season. His 1.86 ERA ranks as the lowest in the National League while his 1.02 WHIP is the NL's third best.Dempster's next scheduled start is this Friday at St. Louis. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.