|Ryan Dempster, Allen Webster on the trade that wasn’t||02.27.13 at 12:18 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — The proximity is fascinating. On one end of the row of pitchers in the Red Sox clubhouse in Fort Myers sits Allen Webster, the quiet, rocket-armed prospect who has been opening eyes in the early stages of spring. Near the other end of that same row is Ryan Dempster, the veteran with a long and consistent big league track record.
The idea of the two of them in the same clubhouse is particularly intriguing given that could have been traded for one another last summer. Last July, as the trade deadline neared, the Dodgers — in search of an upgrade to their rotation — were interested in adding Dempster. Given the right-hander’s pending free agency, the Cubs were open to dealing him, but they needed a meaningful prospect in return. In talks with the Dodgers, Chicago wanted Webster.
Los Angeles never agreed to part with Webster, and so the deal didn’t happen. The implications were considerable.
The Cubs ended up sending Dempster to the Rangers at the deadline in a deal that netted Chicago third baseman Carlos Villanueva and right-hander Kyle Hendricks. The Dodgers’ inability to acquire Dempster meant that they were open to taking on the salary of Josh Beckett in late-August, in the blockbuster deal that shipped Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from the Red Sox. And in return for those big leaguers, the Sox received a package of five prospects built around Rubby De La Rosa and … Webster.
And so, with Dempster having signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal with the Red Sox as a free agent this winter, two players that could have been traded for each other are now in the same clubhouse. The two had given little thought to the idea that they could have been dealt for one another.
“I heard stuff, but I tried to keep my nose out of it best I could, try to let people do my jobs and try to do mine,” Dempster suggested of the Cubs-Dodgers trade talks. “I never really gave it much thought.”
As for Webster, he suggested on Tuesday that he “didn’t hear too much about” the possibility of being traded for Dempster. During the offseason, however, he noted that the presence of his name in the rumor mill leading up to the trade deadline diminished the head-spinning notion of being dealt when the trade with the Red Sox actually occurred.
“I think it kind of helped me. It helped me prepare myself, because in my mind, I had already thought about myself being traded,” said Webster.
Still, when he was ultimately dealt to the Sox in August, it was challenging to absorb what had transpired.
“It’s amazing,” Webster said of being part of the Sox-Dodgers blockbuster. “It was shocking to me. I was as amazed as everyone else. I found out on ESPN, that’s how I found out. It was like, ‘Whoa.’ It was really cool.”
And now, Webster is enjoying the opportunity to benefit from being in the same camp as Dempster.
“He keeps things loose,” Webster said of Dempster. “I think he’s awesome.”
Dempster returned the compliment, and expressed enthusiasm for the idea of being in the same organization as the 23-year-old.
“I’m glad we have him,” said Dempster. “He’s got a pretty electric arm, works really hard, seems like a good kid. Hopefully I can learn a few things from him along the way.”
Among them, Dempster suggested he wouldn’t mind a few lessons in how to dial up mid- to high-90s velocity with a power sinker.
“That’s kind of what I’m looking for. Watch it, maybe absorb it by osmosis a little bit,” Dempster mused. “He’s a hard-working kid. If he keeps doing that, with that kind of arm, and stays healthy, good things will happen for sure.”
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