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Rangers land Dempster to fortify rotation

ARL View Full Game Coverage INGTON -- The Rangers acquired right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster from the Cubs for two Minor League players on Tuesday, a move that sends Roy Oswalt to the bullpen.

The Rangers traded Class A third baseman Christian Villanueva and pitcher Kyle Hendricks for Dempster, who is 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts. In 104 innings he has allowed 27 walks and 83 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .210 batting average.

"Our scouts really feel he's a good fit for our club," general manager Jon Daniels said after the non-waiver Trade Deadline passed. "He is a veteran who has been through the wars. He has a good pitch mix and he's good against both left- and right-handed hitters. He knows how to pitch."

Dempster, who can be a free agent after the season, is scheduled to make his first start for the Rangers on Thursday against the Angels, with Texas' other Deadline acquisition from the Cubs, Geovany Soto, catching him.

"He's got savvy and tremendous pitchability," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's a competitor and he has one of the best ERAs in the National League and one of the best opposing batting averages. He's a veteran. He could be exactly what we are looking for in leading our young pitching staff."

The Rangers went down to the Trade Deadline looking for both starters and relievers while the last-place Cubs were looking to move veterans for young talent. Dempster turned down a trade to the Braves earlier this month in the belief that the Cubs were going to trade him to the Dodgers.

But those two teams were unable to complete a deal. The Rangers were already talking to the Cubs about a number of different things and completed an earlier trade on Monday night. In that one, the Rangers acquired Soto for Minor League pitcher Jacob Brigham.

On Tuesday, Dempster let it be known that he would approve a trade to the Rangers and the two sides were able to get something done quickly in the last 20 minutes before the 3 p.m. CT Deadline.

"I didn't think they were a team on the radar, but as things progressed, I felt more comfortable with the situation," Dempster said during a conference call before Tuesday's game. "It looked like a possible fit and I'm glad it was. I'm excited about going to a team that has a chance to win the World Series and hopefully that will happen. It's not that I wouldn't approve a trade, but I really wasn't asked about it."

The Rangers' rotation took two big hits recently when they lost both Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz to season-ending elbow injuries. Dempster has been on the disabled list twice this season. He was sidelined April 18-May 3 with a strained right quad muscle and from June 18 to July 8 with a strained muscle in his right rib cage.

"We wanted to improve the club any way we can," Daniels said. "If Colby and Neftali had not had their injuries, we would still be looking to improve the club. Right now, this is the area that we needed to improve."

Dempster joins a rotation that already includes Matt Harrison, Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Scott Feldman. Oswalt was also in the rotation but is 3-2 with a 6.49 ERA after allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings in a 15-8 loss to the Angels on Monday. With Feldman riding a five-game winning streak over five starts and one relief appearance, the Rangers decided to put Oswalt back in the bullpen. He will pitch in middle relief in front of setup relievers Alexi Ogando, Robbie Ross and Mike Adams.

"When we look at our rotation right now and the way Feldman has been throwing, the move was obvious," Washington said.

Dempster was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 1995 First-Year Player Draft. He was then traded on Aug. 8, 1996, along with Rick Helling to the Marlins for pitcher John Burkett, who helped the Rangers win their first division title that season.

Dempster is now in his 15th season in the Majors with a career record of 117-121 with a 4.31 ERA in 310 starts and 225 relief appearances. He came up as a starter for the Marlins and was an All-Star for them in 2000. He was traded to the Reds in 2002 and released by them after the 2003 season.

He signed as a free agent with the Cubs in 2004 and was their closer in 2005-07, racking up 85 saves in the three-year period. He went back into the rotation in 2008 and has gone 58-46 with a 3.64 ERA in 148 starts since then.

"We added a good pitcher, that definitely helps," infielder Michael Young said. "He's had a lot of success. He's versatile, he's pitched out of the bullpen and he has had good years as a starter. We're excited to have him. It's good to have another veteran who is supposed to be a good teammate. It's definitely a plus for us."

Dempster has never been in the American League, but he is 11-15 with a 4.63 ERA in Interleague Play during his career. He is 5-6 with a 3.50 ERA in 14 starts since becoming a starter again in 2008. He has never faced the Angels.

"There will be a lot of unknown learning new hitters and new teams, but with video technology the way it is, you can do a lot of homework," Dempster said. "I can do it on the plane ride and in the next few days. I'll also have to lean on the pitching coach and other guys on the staff. But a lot of guys in the AL haven't seen me so hopefully that will work to my advantage. But if you make your pitches, you're going to get hitters out."

Villanueva, signed as an amateur free agent out of Mexico in 2008, was hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 59 RBIs in 100 games at Class A Myrtle Beach. Hendricks, an eighth-round pick in 2011 out of Dartmouth, was 5-8 with a 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Myrtle Beach.

"This is a reflection on the work that our scouts and our player development people and the coaches have put in," Daniels said. "One was a young third baseman signed out of Mexico not for a big signing bonus and the other was a late-round draft pick out of a small Northeast college, and they brought back an All-Star big league pitcher. These are two guys, in addition to being talented, they have tremendous makeup. They are going to get the most out of their ability. The Cubs got two good players."

Texas Rangers, Ryan Dempster