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Ryan Dempster, Red Sox agree to two-year, $26.5 million deal

Dec 13, 2012, 2:50 PM EDT

Ryan Dempster

UPDATE: Rosenthal says it’s a two-year, $26.5 million deal, so by turning down the previous two-year offer Dempster gets a little extra cash and the Red Sox still manage to avoid a three-year commitment.


Yesterday the Red Sox and Ryan Dempster were said to be in serious negotiations and now Ken Rosenthal of reports that the two sides are “close” to an agreement.

No word yet on the money or years involved, but previous reports had Dempster turning down a two-year, $25 million offer from Boston.

If the Red Sox agree to give him a three-year deal it’s a big risk, as Dempster is 35 years old and got knocked around in his first taste of the American League following a midseason trade to the Rangers. For the most part, though, he’s been a solid No. 2 or No. 3 starter, posting a 3.74 ERA and 911 strikeouts in 997 innings during the past three seasons, including a 3.38 ERA in 173 total innings this year.

  1. number42is1 - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    PLEASE let this happen… 3 yrs 36 million with a 4th yr option…

    • dcfan4life - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:13 PM

      Really, you must be a Yankees fan hoping the Red Sox make a bad decision otherwise that request makes no sense. Overall though this is easily the best signing the Red Sox have made. Takes until Dec 13th to sign a pitcher when that was their biggest problem, but at least the signed a good one.

      • number42is1 - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        correct on the Yankees fan part.. very VERY incorrect on the “good one” part. he is right up there with Lackey.

      • atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:32 PM

        A 35 year old, who’s a career .500 pitcher (124-124) with a career 4.33 era is a good pitcher?! Talk about lowered expectations in Boston!

        The truth is Dempster is an average to below average pitcher who rode a great 2/3 of a season to a $13.25 million per year contract, if he had played to his career during the first 2/3 of last season he’d be getting $2-3 million per year.

      • dcfan4life - Dec 13, 2012 at 6:34 PM

        Dempster has pitched 200 innings 4/5 years with an ERA under 4 for some very bad defensive Cubs teams. Thats good, not great. This is MLB, a 4 ERA is considered good. And thats what Dempster been for the last 5 years overall. He is older so a 2 year deal is perfect for the Sox. However i do feel they cant fix their holes enough to overcome the Yankees, Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays. Toughest division in baseball next year most likely.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 8:20 PM

        DCfan4life, Dempster is going from pitching primarily in a neutral hitters park (Wrigley) to pitching in a very friendly hitters park (Fenway). He is going from pitching in a league with NO DH to pitching in a league with a DH. I hope you don’t honestly believe that he is going to be that pitcher you mentioned in your comment.

      • dcfan4life - Dec 13, 2012 at 9:45 PM

        Will he be the pitcher he was, i dunno. He can be. Many pitchers have found success, even at fenway. Contact pitchers like Derek Lowe. Power pitchers like Pedro and Clemens. Dempster in my mind will literally be similar to his previous years. Good, not great. Cant be any worse than Lackey…

      • uyf1950 - Dec 14, 2012 at 3:03 AM

        dcfan4life, you do know that all those pitchers you mentioned were with Boston in the prime of their careers and Dempster will be 36 a month into the 2013 season. And let’s be honest all those pitchers were much better than Dempster.

  2. proudlycanadian - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    The next question is “Are the Red Sox actually close to signing Napoli?” It appears that the hang up is the wording of the contract, given his medical concerns.

  3. edelmanfanclub - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    I was hoping for a rebuilding year in Boston but they seem to refuse to try and attempt that. Shouldn’t have signed victorino and had kalish in right. Also should have signed Marcum instead of Dempster. Should just start the rebuild now and be ready to compete by 2015…. whatever. This market this year isn’t strong enough to help this team win. I think were still destined for 3rd 4th or 5th regardless so why sign all these people. Start the rebuild take 5th and we could jump to 2nd by 2015. Now I guess well just see what happens…

    • bradybbgoat - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM

      Wouldn’t it be ironic if the O’s and Jays finish 1 and 2 and Yanks and Sawks 4 and 5?

      • cur68 - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

        Not only ironic but friggin AWESOME!!!!!

      • indaburg - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        Define irony.

      • capone888 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:29 PM

        You need to look up the definition of ironic.

    • ras1tafari - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:34 AM

      Agreed, I have NO IDEA what they are trying to do here. Are they rebuliding? Because these moves all block the youngsters from moving up and rebuilding, but these same signings are so middling and low-impact that it’s like watching them try to build a slow pitch softball team.

      The Red Sox brass needs to identify a plan execute it. This whole offseason has been as waste of time.

    • nolasoxfan2012 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      I totally agree. They’re building an 80-win team with absolutely no upside. I’m not tuning in to watch that. I would have been psyched if they had blown it up and traded for high-upside prospects. At least watching them play would entail thinking about a strong future. As it is, the Sox do have some good prospects, but not nearly enough that we should look at 2014-2015 as some kind of nirvana. Bogaerts could be a star. Barnes and Bradley might be pretty good. De La Rosa and Webster could be good. Beyond that, who knows? With the moves they’re making, they could be stuck in the middle of the pack for a long time.

      • redsox32c - Dec 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM

        I dont disagree but I think your selling this a little low. Bogaerts could be a monster and Barnes, Bradley Jr, Middlebrooks and De LaRosa could be all star quality. Lavarnway, Brentz, Swihart, Webster could all be cheep solid parts. In 3 years all those guys should be in the majors and producing and all these contracts will be up, this gives the Sox great flexability to sign a few mega deals to go along with all the cheap young talent. I know its not the quick fix but long term I think its the smart move.

  4. mccourty1sland - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    Oh boy….

  5. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    I’m loving this potential signing for the Red Sox. I hope there are no last minute glitches.

    • pisano - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      My friend, Dempster would provide great batting practice for the Yankees and the rest of the AL.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM

        I agree. A 3 year / $39MM deal sounds about right to me.

      • jolink653 - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM

        I know lol I’m so excited…I really hope Dempster actually signs

  6. spudchukar - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Dempster over Lohse. Brilliant.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:45 AM

      Haven’t you come to expect “brilliant” from the Red Sox management team?

    • dan1111 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Dempster averaged a 114 ERA+ over the last nine years. Lohse, on the other hand has only had one season better than that in his entire career. He is a journeyman pitcher who happened to have a great year last year (though the peripheral stats suggest it was a fluke).

      Far too much is being made of Dempster’s 5.07 ERA in twelve starts with Texas last season. He had a couple of games go poorly, and it’s taken to be proof that he can’t pitch in the AL.

      Dempster is a few years older, but other than that he is preferable to Lohse in every way.

      • spudchukar - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:51 PM

        I happen to agree with you regarding the short stint in Texas. But the notion that Dempster is a better choice than Lohse is debatable, and that is being generous. Disregarding Dempster’s age is foolish.

        And suggesting that Lohse has only been exceptional for one year is uninformed. Early in Lohse’s career he was a different pitcher than he has been for his tenure in St. Louis. Once he came under the tutelage of Dave Duncan he excelled.

        In 2008 learning his new approach he posted a 15-6 record with 3.79. Then in 2009 he got off to a strong start, but suffered two odd injuries, one which wasn’t immediately properly diagnosed. He attempted to pitch through his trouble, with little success. Then in 2010 he again tried to pitch through pain and was ineffective. Once he got his arm repaired and healed, he reasserted himself.

        In 2011, he went 14-8, with a sparkling 3.39 ERA. Then followed it up with a Cy Young caliber 2012, 16-3 and 2.86. He led the majors in starts, and finished 4th in MLB in quality starts with 24, only 3 behind leader R. A. Dickey.

        Seems to me Lohse is heading the a better direction and he is 2 years younger.

      • dan1111 - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:19 PM

        I agree that Lohse’s 2012 was excellent. However, the fact remains that it was his only truly great season in the majors. His 3.39 ERA in 2011 was solid, but an ERA like that doesn’t mean what it did a few years ago, due to the lower run scoring environment. His 2009 and 2010 performances can’t be ignored, injuries or not. Indeed his injury history may be a concern for the future.

        If Lohse continues his dominance, it will be a great turnaround story. However, as of now Dempster has the much stronger resume. And they are less than a year and a half apart in age.

      • spudchukar - Dec 14, 2012 at 5:48 AM

        Not all injuries are alike. Lohse’s was a forearm muscle sheath tear. Highly unusual in baseball players, more common in long distance runners (legs). So the likelihood of re-injury is small. He lead MLB in starts in 2012 and has now pitched without any hint of discomfort for 2 years.

        Not to nitpick but Dempster is actually 1 1/2 years and a day older than Lohse.

        As for the fewer runs these days there isn’t much difference. Since high water marks since 2000 teams score less than 1/2 run less.

  7. pinkfloydprism - Dec 13, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    I am not a fan of any of their signings this year. If the market is this thin, then play the kids and save the money. They are already the worst team in that division, so why waste the money?

  8. willclarkgameface - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    The Red Sox succumb to fan pressure all the time and this will be just another occurrence to put on the list, not because of who it is, but just because fans keep bitching that they want the Red Sox to appear to give a shit and sign players.

    This is a dumb move.

    He didn’t pitch well in Texas and I’m going to go out on a limb and say he will continue to pitch poorly in AL hitter friendly parks (hello Yankee Stadium).

    The Red Sox couldn’t just eat it this year and develop players and get themselves ready for another haul like they had from 2003 thru 2009. They needed to prove something to the fans and in the end will regret every second of it when these contracts are clogging up room in their final years.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM

      I guess guys like Manny, Schilling, Damon, Millar and Muellar were only accessory pieces to the Red Sox teams of most of those years.

      • willclarkgameface - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:22 PM

        Don’t be ridiculous. NONE of these recent signings is even close to the level of Johnny Damon or Bill Mueller. This is like signing Kevin Millar 3 times over (Napolli [which at this point doesn’t even seem like its a sure bet], Dempster, and Victorino).

        The Red Sox want to sell tickets and by seeming to be interested in the free agent market they appear to Pink Hat “fans” to be interested in improving their worst team since 1966.

        This is fluff. They need pitching and they are doing this not to improve the team necessarily, but to just be able to field a MLB roster.

        Weak move in an ever weakening market. The AL West is apparently where its at now, East cost EVERYTHING be damned.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:37 PM

        Willclark…, I didn’t say they were equal. I was only replying to your earlier comment which left the impression that the Red Sox of 2003/2009 were somehow devoid of premier players and and that home grown players were responsible for what success they enjoyed. The simple fact is that can’t be further from the truth..

  9. rockthered1286 - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:06 AM

    As an O’s fan this move doesn’t phase me too much with the exception of seeing AL East teams that have holes fill them. Here’s what we’ve seen so far:
    Toronto- added half of the Marlins.
    BoSox- Dempster, Napoli, Victorino
    Yankees- Resigned Pettite, Mariano, soon Ichiro, and brought in Youk
    Rays- traded to bring in top prospect Wil Myers amongst others, and Roberto…Fausto…whatever the hell his name is this week.
    O’s- lost Reynolds. No offer to Saunders. Brought it a utility man in Casilla. Left with question marks in SP, 1B, 2B, LF.

    I really wasn’t expecting to sign a Grienke. Or Hamilton. Or Upton. BUT… I expected something. Anything. An upgrade at any one position would be an upgrade to this team. Instead we’re left rolling the dice on a career utilityman at 2nd or Roberts returning for the umpteenth time, a platoon in LF of oft injured Reimold and McLouth, either Chris Davis at first and ? at DH, or Davis to DH and ? at first, and a rotation that could include Wada coming off TJS, and possibly one of the struggling 3 draft picks (Matusz, Arrieta, Britton). Highly doubt we see Bundy this year. So while everyother team actively improves? The O’s continue there trend of stagnant in the off season.

    • dan1111 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      Maybe this is a sign that the Orioles have correctly judged their own position and realize that they overperformed their talent by a mile last year. They are not even one Greinke or Hamilton from being a contender again, with the way the division is loading up.

      • rockthered1286 - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:00 PM

        Assuming your no O’s fan so I’ll educate. This isn’t about assessing where they are. And glad you were the first person to make the whole “they got lucky they won’t do again” comment, because we all know that’s not overplayed at all…this is about Uncle Pete doing the Uncle Pete- not playing in FA until the final days.

        Like I said, I didn’t expect Grienke OR Hamilton. I expected an upgrade. Teams who have room to upgrade typically upgrade, not sit back, twiddle their thumbs and say “well we’re not that close so let’s just do nothing.” Team’s don’t improve that way. And based on the O’s SUCCESS last year (say what you want, they finished 2nd and 1 game behind the Yanks in the AL East, beat the Rangers in play in, and made the Yanks earn their series win) the ideal move would be to use that as means to coerce players to come join this up and coming team. We haven’t had a playoff appearance on our side until this offseason. And since we’re at it, how can you say they overachieved? Tell me who would you replace aside from the spots I mentioned? Markakis or Jones? Weiters? Hardy? Crush Davis? Machado? The 3rd best BP in baseball? This is a team with a great lineup and a great pen, just a few holes that need filled. McLouth back means platoon in LF. Given. But we need a 1B/DH and a 2B. 2B is not gonna happen since the market is thin at best, so their best bet is to pursue a DH or 1B. Unfortunately, my theory is that they wait it out, do nothing at all, and call Thome back to DH, moving Davis to first. It’s a downgrade from Reynolds, who didn’t even get an offer (made sense if they were looking for an upgrade but since they didn’t I’m lost for words). Rotation doesn’t really worry me with Hammel, Gonzalez, Chen and Tillman. Our 5th may end up being Saunders, but only time will tell.

        It’s just rough as an O’s fan knowing that no matter how solid your team looks, we will never make another splash to upgrade. Uncle Pete keeps that check book locked up until he’s ready to discount shop in 2013. Sad truth.

      • dan1111 - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:26 PM

        Well, I wasn’t meaning to taunt O’s fans. I would like to see them succeed. But the fact is that last year they barely scored more runs than they allowed. This suggests that luck had a lot to do with their great record. You can’t expect it to happen again. Furthermore, they also had a lot of players over-perform their track records. Maybe some of them are just breaking into stardom, but you can’t expect all of them to continue playing at that level. All of this suggests the Orioles shouldn’t be expected to repeat 2012.

        If they want to succeed, what should they do? Spending some money on complementary players is not going to help them make the postseason. Even bringing in a big star will probably not be enough. Unless they are willing to bring in several major pieces right now, they should save their money and continue the rebuilding process.

        The O’s leadership hasn’t looked smart very often in recent years, but not making a move now looks smart to me.

  10. jaybird22seven - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    Ryan why would you want to play for the last place losers !!!!!

    • 18thstreet - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:31 PM

      Because the check clears.

      Why does anyone believe there’s any other reason?

  11. anybodyinhere - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    Check your stats there, Aaron. “911 strikeouts in 997 innings during the past three seasons, including a 3.38 ERA in 173 total innings this year” means he averaged over 400 innings in ’11 and ’10

    • edelmanfanclub - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      Lol, yeah this should be changed to 911 strikeouts in 997 during his last five seasons, including a 3.38 ERA in 173 innings this year.

  12. paepae805 - Dec 13, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    As a Brewers Fan, please let this happen. I don’t wnat to see the Brewers give a long term deal to another pitcher past his prime. Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf as prime previous examples.

  13. navyteach - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    The RS have pigeon-holed themselves in the pitching market by restricting themselves to max offers of 2-3 years. The RS can’t afford to rebuild, especially if the rumors are true about Henry wanting to sell the team. It will be an interesting year in the AL East.

  14. tfbuckfutter - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    The only way this doesn’t turn out TERRIBLE is if they get incredibly lucky and his time in Texas turns out to be the only adjustment he needs to make the switch from NL to AL.

    Almost all pitchers who try to make the change can’t handle it (I know, some have done superb….I didn’t say “no pitchers” so don’t just start pointing out the few who have)

    • thinman61 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:36 PM

      Hiroki Kuroda says hi.

      • tfbuckfutter - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        Javier Vazquez says “bite me”.

  15. jolink653 - Dec 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Dempster has always been a good National League pitcher and now you saw how well his AL tenure started once he got to Texas: He was awful…As a Yankees fan, I was disappointed the see him reject Boston’s first offer because I was really hoping they were dumb enough to sign him to a big contract, and sure enough it looks like it’s gonna happen….Not sure whose bright idea this was, bu I wish I could shake their hand and thank them for bringing this batting practice pitcher into the AL East

    • dan1111 - Dec 13, 2012 at 2:51 PM

      A 5.09 ERA in twelve starts is proof he can’t handle the AL and is a “batting practice pitcher”? This is getting absurd.

  16. mrchainbluelightning - Dec 13, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Is it just me or are the Red Sox looking completely desperate?
    I don’t think a single move they made will keep them from a 4th-5th place finish in the East.

    Do they not realize that taking your medicine for a few years along with having deep pockets can put you in a position Nats fans are enjoying?

    Many decision makers in Beantown are lying to themselves or are surrounded by Yes-men, because if they looked at the team honestly the would know that their window in not the next 2 seasons.

    Red Sox fans can take a rebuild if it’s done right.

  17. uyf1950 - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    Yes Virginia, There Is A Santa Claus

  18. cackalackyank - Dec 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    Apparently the Sox are stuck on annual $ that include the #13…a number that many people consider unlucky…. so I guess they were trying to make this 13.25 instead of you know 13 million even like they did with Napoli and Victorino.

  19. wilkisoft - Dec 13, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Great signing by the Red Sox. 2 years is long enough and the guy eats up innings.

  20. btwicey - Dec 13, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    So let me get this right, demp makes 13 mill, Ervin makes 13 mill, Guthrie makes 7 mill … And dicky, the CY, makes 5? Ummmm I don’t understand …

    • cackalackyank - Dec 13, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      You left out the important thing btwicey….Dickey plays for the Muts. ‘nough said

  21. hitdog042 - Dec 14, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    What is the fascination with the word rebuild? Sox prospects are not ready. Period. You can ruin a guy throwing him out there. This is Boston. Not Kansas City. Relax people. Anyone who thinks Boston, who owns NESN, should rebuild with rookies should have their air tested for contaminants. It’s so funny.

    Napoli and Gomes will combine for 55hr. Victorino will play a great RF. and they are as solid up the middle defensively as anyone in MLB.

    They will be just fine.

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