CHICAGO — The Texas Rangers won the Ryan Dempster sweepstakes, acquiring the Chicago Cubs ace for two minor leaguers moments before Tuesday's trade deadline.
The AL West leaders fortified their rotation for the stretch run, sending infielder Christian Villanueva and pitcher Kyle Hendricks to Chicago.
Dempster, who had power to block deals, had refused to approve a trade to Atlanta last week. The Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees also tried to land the 35-year-old righty.
"It's a great opportunity over there," Dempster said. "It's not going to be easy. There are a lot of teams out there that are really good. I think they have as good a chance as anybody."
Dempster was 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 games for the Cubs and can become a free agent after the season. He was one of several players Chicago traded in a 24-hour span, with pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson going to Atlanta and catcher Geovany Soto to Texas.
Teams had until 4 p.m. EDT to complete trades without waivers. From now until the end of the season, clubs have a chance to claim players before they are dealt.
With a strong season that included a 33-inning scoreless streak, Dempster was one of the most attractive pitchers on the market. The Rangers were looking for pitching help even though they began the day leading with a 59-42 record and a 31/2-game lead over Oakland in the AL West.
The Dempster trade came less than a week after the division rival Los Angeles Angels got former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke in a swap with Milwaukee. Many fans expected Texas to counter with a big move, and the Rangers pulled it off.
The two-time AL champion Rangers needed help with their rotation.
Right-hander Colby Lewis underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow and will miss the remainder of the season. Roy Oswalt has struggled, too, since signing as a free agent in midseason and is being moved to the bullpen.
"He might be a guy like Colby [Lewis]," Rangers outfielder David Murphy said. "I loved seeing a guy like that pounding the strike zone and working late into games. [Dempster] might have an advantage off the bat because not many guys in this league have seen him much at all."
The Cubs had agreed to deal Dempster to Atlanta last week, but he did not give his approval.
"I just never said no," he said, adding he needed time to think about it. "The last few days, I had to give it a lot more thought to the teams I might possibly be traded to."
Did he make the right decision?
"We'll see," said Dempster, a third-round draft pick by Texas in 1995. "There's no right or wrong decision. There's just journeys in life that we end up taking. We try to make the most out of those. They've got a great ballclub down there. They've got some really good baseball players."
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.
Reds pick up Royals closer Broxton
CINCINNATI — Unable to upgrade their everyday lineup, the Cincinnati Reds instead strengthened the back end of their bullpen on Tuesday by acquiring closer Jonathan Broxton from Kansas City for a pair of minor league pitchers.
Manager Dusty Baker plans to use Broxton as a set-up man for closer Aroldis Chapman, who has dominated while finishing games. Baker said Broxton could be used in save situations when Chapman has pitched several days in a row.
The Reds gave up 24-year-old left-hander Donnie Joseph and 23-year-old right-hander Juan Carlos Sulbaran. Joseph was 4-1 with a 2.86 ERA and five saves at Triple-A. Sulbaran was 7-7 in 19 starts with a 4.04 ERA in Double-A.
Broxton expected a trade, but was surprised to wind up with Cincinnati.
"I kind of seen it coming, but I didn't see Cincinnati," he said in Kansas City, where the Royals were getting ready to play Cleveland. "But they were real aggressive late is what [GM Dayton Moore] said -- that everything that was going on was Texas, Texas, Texas. Cincinnati jumped right in the last second and got me."
Pirates acquire Sanchez from Marlins
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Pirates acquired former All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez from the Miami Marlins in a deal announced right before Tuesday's trade deadline.
The Pirates also received minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska for minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and Pittsburgh's extra draft pick in 2013 given to financially weaker teams.
Sanchez, 28, was batting only .202 with three home runs and 17 RBI and had been demoted to Triple-A in May for nearly a month.
YANKEES: New York obtained third baseman Casey McGehee from Pittsburgh for reliever Chad Qualls on Tuesday, providing a right-handed batter to plug in while Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira recuperate from hand injuries. McGehee, 29, is hitting .230 with eight homers and 35 RBI in almost 300 plate appearances. The 33-year-old Qualls was acquired by New York from Philadelphia on July 1 and pitched in eight games.
RED SOX: Boston traded outfielder Scott Podsednik and right-hander Matt Albers to the Arizona Diamondbacks for left-hander Craig Breslow. Podsednik hit .387 with three doubles, one homer and seven RBI this year. Albers, 29, was 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 40 relief appearances. Breslow, obtained from Oakland in December, was 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in 40 relief appearances. He appeared in 13 games for the Red Sox in 2006.
CARDINALS: St. Louis acquired bullpen help at the trade deadline, getting right-hander Edward Mujica from the Miami Marlins for 2010 first-round pick Zack Cox. The 28-year-old Mujica is 0-3 with a 4.38 ERA and two saves in 41 games and has held right-handed hitters to a .211 batting average. Last year he was 9-6 with a 2.96 ERA.
INDIANS: Cleveland acquired first baseman Lars Anderson from Boston for minor league knuckleballer Steven Wright. The 24-year-old Anderson hit .259 with nine homers and 52 RBI at Triple-A Pawtucket. Wright, who has never pitched in the majors, was 9-6 with a 2.49 ERA at Double-A Akron.