Deadline recap: Rangers win Dempster derby

The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Dodgers will have to be satisfied with a haul that includes third baseman/shortstop Hanley Ramirez, outfielder Shane Victorino and relief pitchers Randy Choate and Brandon League.

Just as notable was one player they didn’t get: Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who went to the Texas Rangers for third base prospect Christian Villanueva and pitching prospect Kyle Hendricks.

Dempster, whose 2.25 ERA is second in the majors, would have instantly upgraded a rotation whose best right-hander is either Chad Billingsley or Aaron Harang, depending on the night. (Last night, it wasn’t Harang.) He also would have cost the Dodgers a pitching prospect they did not want to part with —Allen Webster and Zach Lee remain at Double-A Chattanooga.

Since he’s a free agent at the end of the season, the Dodgers could still go after Dempster in the winter.

The trade is another strike in the burgeoning arms race in the American League West, where the Angels stole headlines last week by obtaining Zach Greinke from Milwaukee. The Rangers also obtained Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in a separate deal last night.

It also points to August as an interesting month if the Dodgers want to obtain a starting pitcher through the waiver process.

Perhaps general manager Ned Colletti is comfortable with the rotation as it is. He had more reasons to upgrade a lineup that ranks 29th out of 30 teams in home runs, 27th in OPS (.685) and 25th in runs scored. If the Dodgers start scoring at a higher rate, maybe the prospect of a Billingsley or a Harang starting a playoff Game 3 seems less daunting.

The Dodgers are in a virtual tie for first place in the National League West with the San Francisco Giants, who have lost five straight. Tonight they host the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are 3.5 games behind the Dodgers and Giants after last night’s win.

While the Dodgers landed Victorino, San Francisco traded for another Philadelphia outfielder, Hunter Pence. The Phillies received Nate Schierholtz, prospects Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin, and cash in exchange for Pence, who becomes a free agent after next season.

Pence was hitting .271/.336/.447 with 17 home runs –tied for 14th in the National League — and 59 RBIs.

As Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area writes:

It’s fair to assume that Giants ownership stepped up and committed to boosting the payroll in response to the hyper-aggressive Los Angeles Dodgers, who already took on $30 million to obtain Hanley Ramirez and has added right-hander Brandon League and outfielder Shane Victorino within the last 24 hours.

Monday’s other notable deadline move saw the Kansas City Royals trade former Dodger closer Jonathan Broxton to the Cincinnati Reds for a pair of pitching prospects. The Dodgers visit Cincinnati Sept. 21-23.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.