Great, great piece. I love reading stuff like this that dives deep into the specifics of the sausage-making.
Of particular note is Rosenthal mentioning that the Rangers coveted Shane Victorino, but couldn't swing a deal with the Phillies, and, of course, the earlier talk about the Rangers working on a blockbuster trade for Josh Beckett, Kelly Shoppach, and Jacoby Ellsbury over the weekend, which may or may not have ever reached an advanced stage.
Here's part of his big finish:
The Cubs had virtually no choice.
They had to trade Dempster, or ultimately be left with nothing for him.
They had spoken extensively with the Rangers, completing the trade for Soto and discussing another for Garza. The teams actually were talking about Dempster and Garza at the same time as the deadline approached, negotiating on parallel tracks. The Rangers preferred Dempster; Garza has not pitched since July 21 because of a triceps injury and would have come at a higher acquisition cost because he is under club control for one more season.
Dempster, meanwhile, had his own preferences as the possibility of him going to the Dodgers all but disappeared.
He was close with Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild and special assistant Jim Hendry from his days with the Cubs; Hendry, the Cubs’ former GM, had awarded Dempster a four-year, $52 million free-agent contract after the 2008 season.
But Dempster also had a connection with the Rangers; Greg Maddux, his former Cubs teammate, is a special assistant in the team’s front office. What’s more, the Rangers are the two-time defending AL champions and currently own the second-best record in the league. That didn’t hurt.
In the end, the Rangers were more aggressive than the Yankees. They were willing to take on the more than $5 million remaining on Dempster’s contract. They also were willing to include Villanueva, who was their No. 8 prospect entering the season, according to Baseball America, but behind Adrian Beltre and Olt on Texas’ organizational depth chart.
I suppose that in light of everything that was transpiring with the pitching staff during the couple of days leading up to the trade deadline, and in light of the fact that the Cubs/Rangers had already hooked up on the Soto deal and had developed a fairly advanced degree of familarity with each other's systems, that we should have seen a Dempster/Garza deal as a likelier possibility during the final lead-up to the deadline. And once the clock ran down into the final half-hour on Dempster, and once it became clear that the Dodgers weren't going to cave, that familiarity was clearly a tremendous asset in hammering out an agreement with the Rangers as quickly as possible.
Also, this was interesting:
Such a massive deal [for Beckett/Shoppach/Ellsbury] would have been difficult to complete, and the talks never got serious, a source said Wednesday morning. The talks for Beckett alone never got all that serious, either.
Per Jeff Wilson yesterday, the Rangers thought they had actually completed a deal for Beckett over the weekend, but it fell through ... that sounds like a deal that was fumbled at the five-yard line, like a deal that was right on the verge of coming together, and that would seem to run counter to Rosenthal's assertion that the talks were never all that serious.