It's not often that one of the more affordable options being bandied about in St. Louis Cardinals trade rumors has an ERA of 1.86, and it's less often still that that option is a veteran anchor of the Chicago Cubs' pitching staff. Enter Ryan Dempster,obviously. (Alternate third sentence: It's even less often still that that pitcher does a killer impression of Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray!)
Dempster, in the middle of a 33-inning scoreless streak, has even transformed his peripherals from "weirdly high strikeout rate for an old ex-reliever" to "classic Cardinals starter walk rate," lopping a K and a BB from every nine innings so far.
Dempster, in the last year, of a somehow-appropriate four year, $52 million deal, is not going to be a bargain with these numbers, but compared to Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke he represents a more classic one-year-rental, and will be priced appropriately. If the Cardinals traded some B prospects for him (Zack Cox and a starter who's neither Shelby Miller nor Carlos Martinez nor Tyrell Jenkins?) had everything fall their way, a guy like Dempster could bump Joe Kelly into the bullpen for a season, strengthening both spots, without figuring into their 2013 plans.
I'm still not convinced the Cardinals need to make a move to compete through the end of the season, but if Theo Epstein is willing to trade in-division Dempster makes a lot of sense as a target.