Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

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Dempster says he never listened in on calls with the Dodgers

While the airwaves around Chicago were burning up the past few days about the Cubs' front office supposedly letting Ryan Dempster listen in on their talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the accusations started to fly that what the Cubs reportedly did was unethical and lacked integrity.

However, did anybody bother to ask Ryan Dempster exactly what happened and then put his version up against what Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says happened?

I called Dempster Monday and spoke with him at length about the events surrounding last Tuesdays trade deadline deal that sent him to the Texas Rangers for two minor leaguers. He was emphatic that at no time did he ever listen in on any conversation between the Cubs and Dodgers.

"I hung out in the Cubs offices playing Golden Tee in the break room and saying some goodbyes to people in the offices that I have known for as long as Ive been a Cub," Dempster said. "I also wanted to be accessible to Theo and Jed so that if a deal came up that they needed my approval on I would be easy to find. At no time did I ever listen in on any phone calls between the Cubs and any other team."

I also spoke with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer and he denies that Dempster listened in on any phone calls with the Dodgers or anyone else.

"We had Ryan in here so we could keep him apprised on the talks as they developed throughout the afternoon," Hoyer said. "With a firm deadline of 3:00 p.m., things were happening quickly and we wanted him to know all of the possibilities that were in play. At no time did Ryan ever listen in on any phone calls without someones knowledge. If that were true I would understand the Dodgers being upset but that wasnt the case as he never listened in on any calls."

Dempster did speak with Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and it was after that call that the decision to accept a trade to the Texas Rangers was made. The Dodgers' offer, according to multiple sources around baseball was not a strong one and after talking with Colletti it became obvious that a trade to Los Angeles was not going to happen.

"I got on the phone with Ned Colletti and we had a short conversation but it was obvious that a deal wasnt going to get done so I agreed to go to Texas, Dempster told me.

It is understandable how people may have thought that Dempster was listening in after hearing the comments of Theo Epstein after the trade deadline. Epstein relayed the story of Dempster being in the Cubs offices prior to the 3 p.m. deadline.

"We joked about it every day," Epstein told a group of beat reporters. "And in the end, once he came to our office and actually heard the conversations we were having with L.A., he realized: OK, maybe thats actually not going to happen.Let me consider a couple other places.

But I think it was helpful to have him there. He could hear firsthand that it probably wasnt going to happen. If someone really wants to go to a place, you can tell them over and over again its probably not going to happen. But unless theyre convinced of that, they may not want to move on to their second choice."

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

WATCH: Blackhawks play Blues in NHL 17 ahead of Winter Classic showdown

For the third time since the event was created, the Blackhawks will participate in the Winter Classic, facing the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 2, 2017.

To build some hype for the Central Division showdown, which will feature two teams that find themselves battling for the top seed in the Western Conference, Ryan Hartman and Trevor van Riemsdyk of the Blackhawks squared off with Joel Edmundson and Robby Fabbri of the Blues in EA Sports' NHL 17.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Edmunson and Fabbri jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, but the finish would be determined in 3-on-3 overtime.

Check out who came out on top in the video below:

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

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AP

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces for Cubs’ offseason puzzle

Tyson Ross could be one of the final pieces of the offseason puzzle as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title while still planning for the future.

The Cubs left this week’s winter meetings in Maryland still involved in the Ross talks, sources said, monitoring an intriguing pitcher they had targeted before the 2015 trade deadline.

The San Diego Padres didn’t really buy or sell during that pennant race and made another curious decision last week when they didn’t offer Ross a contract for 2017. MLB Trade Rumors projected Ross would have made $9.6 million during his final year in the arbitration system.

After issues involving his right shoulder wiped out almost his entire season, Ross underwent surgery in October to address thoracic outlet syndrome.

Ross was San Diego’s Opening Day starter during a 15-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, but didn’t pitch again, clouding a future that once had him looking like a trade-deadline chip and one of the best pitchers in the free-agent class after the 2017 season.

That’s when Jake Arrieta will be looking for his megadeal and John Lackey might be in retirement and Jon Lester will be turning 34. That’s why the Cubs are so focused on pitching this winter and trying to balance out an organization tilted toward hitters.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

Kyle Hendricks proved he will be a pitcher to build around – and the Cubs believe Mike Montgomery can evolve from a swingman into a fifth starter and maybe something far more valuable – but depth is a real issue.

Ross made 30-plus starts in 2014 and 2015, when he earned an All-Star selection and accounted for almost 400 innings combined. He will turn 30 in April and is seen as a positive force within the clubhouse. He has a 6-foot-6 frame, a second-round-pick pedigree and a Cal-Berkeley education.

Reports have already linked the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates to Ross and not completely ruled out a return to San Diego. During an offseason where the free-agent market is essentially devoid of reliable frontline starters, there could be sticker shock, even with a rehabbing pitcher.

Trading for Wade Davis meant the Cubs were out of the bidding for Greg Holland, another All-Star closer who helped turn the Kansas City Royals into World Series champions. Holland spent this year recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, but he will still be in position to capitalize after Mark Melancon, Aroldis Chapman and eventually Kenley Jansen reset the market for closers.

With Ross, the Cubs will have to get a better sense of the medical picture and the price for all that upside.

Beyond a winning culture, the Cubs can sell the pitching infrastructure that helped turn Arrieta into a Cy Young Award winner and transform Hendricks into an ERA leader and keep the rotation remarkably healthy.

“Those really talented pitchers are going to be in demand, even those that are coming off an injury,” Cubs president Theo Epstein said this week at National Harbor. “We’ll stay engaged on some of those guys, but they’ll have to be just the right talent.

“We’ll have to feel good about the medical and the return to play. And the fit on the club would have to be right, too. But the true elite guys have a real market, even if they’re coming off down seasons.”