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Another question: How will he fare against the American League?

“It doesn’t make any difference what league you’re in,” Dempster said. “If you put the ball where you want to put it, you’ll do all right.”

His preference was to play for the Dodgers, and although the teams remained in contact right until the end, general manager Jed Hoyer said they were never really close.

Dempster spent the last few hours before the deadline in the Cubs’ offices, and when it became clear a deal with the Dodgers was unlikely, he allowed other teams to get in the running.

Hoyer insisted there was no lingering animosity over the Braves deal falling apart, although they did have to hash out some things.

“There were a lot of conversations,” Hoyer said. “It’s hard. He felt like he had a place he wanted to go. … He wasn’t unprepared to make a decision, but I think when the decision actually came and there was the finality of it, he wanted to wait a little longer and explore his options.”

“So there were a lot of conversations. I think he indicated the communication with the front office has been good. … We wouldn’t be doing our job and we wouldn’t have been fair to Atlanta if we weren’t constantly in communication with Ryan,” he said.

With a contract set to expire after the season ends, Dempster simply wasn’t part of the plan with the Cubs in a rebuilding mode. They hired president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Hoyer, hoping they could put together the first championship since 1908 after they helped build two title winners in Boston, ending a long drought there.

Had the Rangers deal not gone through, Hoyer said Dempster probably would have remained a Cub. He was scheduled to start Tuesday against Pittsburgh, but Casey Coleman took his spot after being recalled from Triple-A Iowa along with infielder Adrian Cardenas and catcher Welington Castillo.

Hoyer said teams had also shown interest in outfielder Alfonso Soriano and pitcher Matt Garza, but they remained with the Cubs. The fact that Garza has been sidelined lately by a slight fluid buildup in his right triceps area didn’t help his value. The Cubs hope he’ll be ready to pitch Tuesday at San Diego.

“The timing didn’t allow teams to feel like they could see him out on the mound and I understand that,” Hoyer said. “Teams are making trades this time of year to try to win the World Series.”

A Garza deal would have left the Cubs without their top three starters.

The Dempster trade is just the latest in a series of moves for a franchise that dealt the troubled Carlos Zambrano to Miami in the offseason and hired manager Dale Sveum to replace Mike Quade. They’re trying to stock up on prospects, particularly pitchers, and that meant saying goodbye to a popular team leader who was active in the community.

Dempster was coming off Tommy John surgery and had been released by the Reds when he signed with the Cubs before the 2004 season. He spent several years as the closer after replacing LaTroy Hawkins before being moved back to the rotation in 2008. He responded with a career-high 17 wins and a 2.96 ERA for their most recent division winner, and he’s been mostly steady ever since, rebounding from a difficult season last year.

“He knows how to make adjustments,” Soto said. “He’s known how to reinvent himself. Whatever he’s been doing has been working.”

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