It was the final week of July — prime time for MLB teams on the trade market — and Dempster was a hot commodity. First, he was reportedly traded to the Braves, only to supposedly enact his 10-5 rights and veto the deal. Then it was swirling rumors of an imminent move to the Dodgers — no dice.
But those were just a precursor to his final destination with the Texas Rangers. The same organization that also happens to be his first major league club.
A little over 17 years ago, back in the early summer of 1995, Dempster got the call from the Rangers as their third-round selection. The excited 18-year-old soon signed on with the club and began pursuing his big league career. Little did he know, though, that it would take nearly two decades to finally get his first win for the franchise.
"It's awesome," Dempster said with a wide smile strewn across his face after the 6-3 win in Boston. "I was drafted June 1, 1995 by the Texas Rangers, so I didn't think it would be that long before I got a win for them. It's a nice feeling."
Although Dempster never made an appearance with Texas during his formative years in the league — traded to the Marlins before his MLB debut — that nice feeling still had to wait a week from his initial start with the club. As he put it, the emotions got the best of Dempster in his premier with his new, old club, allowing a season-high eight runs over 4 2/3 innings at the Ballpark at Arlington.
"There's a lot of emotions going into the first start and I didn’t do a good job executing pitches," Dempster said of his horrid start in Ranger red. "[Today] was a nice win for us [though] and hopefully we can come out and win the series tomorrow."
The 35-year-old is more than just excited about his first win — allowing no earned runs over 6 2/3 innings — but also to finally be joining a title contender. After missing out on World Series titles on the front and back end of his years with the Marlins (1998-2002) and finding minimal postseason opportunities in his nearly nine years with the Cubs, Dempster is more than ready to contribute.
"They have such a good team here, before I got over here, so I'm just trying to fit in and do my job when I'm asked to do my job," Dempster said of the opportunity. "We have such a great ballclub and I hope I can be a guy that they can count on every fifth day."
There's certainly a lot riding on Dempster's right arm after being the major deadline addition for the Rangers in preparation of another deep postseason run. But while some guys may find the emotions of being a key cog in a playoff run overwhelming, much like Dempster did in his first outing, the 14-year veteran is now just trying to be a piece to the puzzle.
And the Rangers hope they're prepared to solve it.