Don't think that the Braves are stuck in neutral just because starter Ryan Dempster is.
As Dempster ponders his trade options and appears to be doing his best to angle the Cubs toward the Dodgers, Braves general manager Frank Wren says his club has not hit the pause button in its effort to improve the rotation.
"We have never stopped having conversations or scouting other clubs and will continue to do so," Wren told CBSSports.com "The Cubs understand that as well."
That undoubtedly is playing into the fact that, as colleague Jon Heyman reported earlier Tuesday, the Cubs have re-engaged the Dodgers in talks for Dempster.
The Braves, meanwhile, will continue their efforts until there is a resolution with Dempster -- whom they would deal to the Cubs for pitcher Randall Delgado -- or with another of their targets. The Brewers' Zack Greinke, the Rays' James Shields and the Red Sox's Jon Lester are among those about whom the Braves have inquired.
In Pittsburgh on Tuesday, Dempster told Chicago reporters that he is mulling his options, that he will take the time he needs to make a decision and that it could go all the way up until the July 31 deadline.
"I'm not surprised by that. He's got his rights as a 10-and-5 guy," said one NL executive, referring to the rule that a player with 10 or more years in the majors, and the past five with the same club, has full no-trade powers. "But what happens if the Cubs and Dodgers can't get together?
"He comes back to the Braves after this?"
Complications to this deal have gotten deeper and more pronounced since news that the Cubs and Braves had a trade in place leaked on Monday.
Dempster said he's preparing for his next start, in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and as the minutes ticked away Tuesday it became more and more likely that he will make at least one more start in a Cubs uniform.
Dempster's first choice in a deal is Los Angeles for several reasons (among them, he's good friends with the Dodgers' Ted Lilly). But the Cubs were seeking top pitching prospect Zach Lee during previous talks with the Dodgers, according to colleague Danny Knobler, but Los Angeles declined.
"He's holding the Braves up for a start hoping LA jumps in, is what he's doing," the executive said after watching Tuesday's events play out. "But why would LA pay up in prospects now that they wouldn't give the Braves before?
Especially now, because as Dempster leaves the Braves hanging, it is eroding the Cubs' leverage.
"I'm sure they're not happy with him," the executive said. "But he has the right to do this."
That's the beauty -- and privilege -- of having a no-trade clause.
Now it's the Cubs, and Braves, who have to deal with it.