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Ryan Dempster will sit out the 2014 season

Feb 16, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT

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Ryan Dempster posted a disappointing 4.57 ERA in 171 1/3 innings last summer for the Red Sox and did not get a postseason start, but he was still expected to open the 2014 campaign in Boston’s rotation.

That is no longer going to happen.

According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the veteran right-hander announced Sunday that he will not pitch this season due to “physical reasons and his desire to spend more time with his kids.”

“I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to,” Dempster told Rosenthal. “I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.”

Dempster signed a two-year, $26.5 million free agent contract with the Red Sox last winter. He’ll be placed on the restricted list and won’t get the $13.25 million salary that he stood to earn in 2014. With that savings, the Red Sox front office could get more active on the open market — they’re known to have some interest in re-signing shortstop Stephen Drew.

Boston’s rotation this season will likely be Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront. Though it should be noted that Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana remain unsigned.

  1. nymets4ever - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    Um, WTF??

    • gibbyfan - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      Hey –If this story is accurate kudos to Dempster. It sounds like he is putting his family and team ahead of multi millions—You don’t see that too often.The only thing similar that comes to mind was what BIg Mac did. It’s really refreshing.

      • dlgdc - Feb 17, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        He’s leaving because he’s no longer good enough to make the team (maybe as a as a mop up reliever). He knows it’s time to go. It was a terrible signing but the Sox will now escape it. I do agree though, that he is doing everyone a favor by stepping away vs forcing the team to release him and pay him out.

  2. uyf1950 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    According to reports the Red Sox intend placing Dempster on the “Restricted List”. Which mean they don’t have to pay him and it frees up his $13.5MM from the luxury tax implications.

    As was brought out on this site with a previous ballplayer and what appeared to be an improper use of the “restricted list” it certainly appears that if the reason(s) for Dempster not playing in 2014 are correct should the Sox place Dempster on the “restricted list” that would also appear to be an improper use of it.

    Just my opinion but short of Demster retiring the Sox should be on the hook for his salary. Unless I’m mistaken he’s not on the DL and he’s not injured. He either retires and doesn’t get paid or he stays on the roster and continues to get his paycheck.

    • paperlions - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      No, they shouldn’t. In each case, this is exactly what the restricted list is for….neither guy planned on playing all year nor did either guy appear to be ready to do what they had to do to earn their salaries.

      If Dempster has a physical issue and wanted to be paid, he’d go on IR and be required to do whatever he could to get back on the field. Players on IR don’t just sit home with their families. If he is choosing to take a year off, then that is exactly what the restricted list is for.

    • chunkala - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Looks like you’re definitely subscibing to Calcaterra’s theory that MLB players can do no wrong ever. It’s simple he’s not playing, he doesn’t get paid.

      Re: article
      Red Sox just got so much better now that Dempster isn’t playing. i don’t know why anyone thought that his NL success would carry over to the AL, let alone the AL East for that matter, it never does. Watch out for how bad
      Choo will be this year in AL, his only hope will be to pile up numbers against the NL Astros.

      Jimenez and Santana to Boston/Fenway? Them pitching in that stadium against AL East opponents = bombs away.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:14 PM

        The myth that the AL is currently significantly better than NL has been dispelled. Choo will do just fine.

      • emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:27 PM

        Choo will probably regress, but it won’t be the league change – it will be that his OBP won’t be inflated by getting hit by pitch in almost 4% of all plate appearances.

      • chunkala - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:55 PM


        Compelling comments regarding AL vs. NL. You offer no proof of your POV.
        What about Pujols, Dickey, Burnett, etc.? Give me some success stories. I’m sticking my neck out with my Choo prediction but I would appreciate some proof to back up your comment.

      • jwbiii - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        The AL won the interleague season series with the NL 154-146. That’s an advantage, but it’s not much. To say that a player will take a significant performance hit, or receive a significant boost, when changing leagues seems specious.

      • a.w. marks - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:48 PM

        You do realize that Choo was in the AL for all but last season, right? If they receive the guy that .289/.381/465 even before he improved his plate discipline to the tune of 39 walks in Cincinnati, I think they’ll be pleased with their investment.

    • therooneyskilledwebster - Feb 16, 2014 at 2:26 PM

      Per Baseball Reference :

      The Restricted list is a compendium of players who are out of organized baseball but are not free agents. A team can request that a player be placed on the restricted list if that player has left the team without a valid reason, or has announced his intention to retire but is still of an age or level of skill that could allow him to return to professional baseball in the future. In effect, the team states that it retains rights to the player if and when he becomes active again. The list is also used to place a player who is unavailable to play for non-baseball reasons, such as personal issues or trouble with the law.

      A player on the restricted list cannot be signed by another team unless compensation is paid to the team who placed him on the list. The list is honored throughout organized baseball and in leagues that have working agreements to respect the contracts of organized baseball, such as Nippon Pro Baseball. The list is most often used today when a player retires at a young age without receiving his unconditional release. If he decides to return to playing, he must do so with his last team, unless a trade or other deal can be worked out. Salomon Torres is a recent case of a player who spent a number of years on the restricted list before returning to organized baseball.

      In the past, the list was used for players who jumped from their contract to sign with an outlaw or independent league. The move signaled to other teams in organized baseball that this player was not free to return to another team and that the provisions of the reserve clause were still in effect in his case. The restricted list is also used on International free agents pending standard MLB investigation.

      By definition, in no way is the Dempster situation an ” improper use” of the restricted list. Not sure if this is sour grapes on your part or hypocrisy. Your Yankees on two separate occasions (at least once knowingly) procured the services of one Alex Rodriguez, benefited from his “enhanced” performance resulting in a W.S. title in 2009 yet now, for the 2014 season, are able to shed his salary off their books. Clearly a suspended player should not be paid during said suspension, however, one could question if it is in the “spirit of the rules” that the team that benefited from the player should be relieved from their financial obligation to the player for salary cap purposes. I personally believe the team should be free of that salary for cap purposes. However, you find fault with a team not having to pay a player who for physical and personal reasons has decided, of their own volition, to step away from the game ?

    • TheMorningStar - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:09 PM

      If the Red Sox should be on the hook for Dempster’s salary for the upcoming season than thexYankees definitely should be on the hook for paying A-Roid his salary. Fair is fair, no?

  3. Jeremiah Graves - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    They pretty much have to sign Drew now, right?! There’s almost no justification not to sign him with that much money in their laps for 2014.

    • emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      They may want to see what they have with Boegarts as SS, and signing Drew would block him.

    • js20011041 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

      Not necessarily. I think they’re pretty confident in Bogaerts at SS going forward. He’s clearly the future at that position. I also think that they are willing to give Middlebrooks every opportunity to play his way out of the 3b job. Drew has never played anywhere other than SS, so a utility type of role may not fit him. There’s also the question of whether or not he would accept a non starting role. I don’t think chemistry is an incredibly important element of a winning team, but I don’t think it would be wise to bring a player into a clubhouse that you know is going to be unhappy.

    • paperlions - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM

      …because Dempster was their SS depth? If anything, this might indicate that they might be interested in adding pitching depth, but they have a number of high ceiling starters and a couple of guys that are close enough to the majors that they should be fine stepping in if there is an injury. Really, I don’t think this is a reason for the RS to do anything….a guy that wasn’t projected to start and that likely would have been a long-man in the pen isn’t playing this year….so what?

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:46 AM

        Not sure I am as high on the Sox starters as you. Workman (see below) is an option, but Webster hasn’t been able to throw strikes consistently enough to be a reliable option for 2014. But like you if they address anything it ought to be pitching.

      • paperlions - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:52 AM

        Well, they have 5 guys that are currently healthy that project to be average or better, and in the minors they have Barnes, Owens, and Webster….each of which are perfectly capable of being a 5th starter at some point this year. I am not saying they couldn’t use an upgrade, considering the health issues some of their starters have had, but they already have internal options, and really no need to sign a guy like Jimenez or Santana, who have no spot in the rotation right now and won’t be needed for multiple years.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        My opinion of the Sox rotation will always be somewhat bias, because of my dislike for Lackey. He is a dick. And this comes from personal interaction, so there is that.

        But counting on Buchholtz’ health or Peavy’s effectiveness doesn’t seem smart to me. I’m not a big Jimenez or Santana fan, but if I had the bucks and cap room the Sox have, I would add some insurance.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        Barnes and Owens were both “horrible” in 2013 in the minors, and that would scare the bejesus out of me as an option.

      • paperlions - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:16 PM

        Minor league numbers can be deceiving, Miller was mostly horrible in 2012.

        Owens was horrible? No, he wasn’t. He walked a lot of guys, but he struck out the world. Barnes wasn’t horrible either, all guys should be so horrible as to strike out 11+ batters per 9 IP. Those guys were better last year than Kelly or Lynn ever were in the minors.

        If those guys would scare you as a fan, you are pretty jittery.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:34 PM

        I must have erred on my Owens research. But he excelled in A ball, and expecting him to jump to the Bigs, in 2014 is really optimistic.

        However, I stand by use of your most favorite word, “horrible” in my assessment of Barnes. I don’t care how many guys he struck out, he posted a combined ERA of 8.48, and Miller never approached numbers like that.

      • rjostewart - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        No clue where you got your numbers. Matt Barnes put up a 4.33 ERA at Portland and made one appearance after his promotion to AAA in which he threw 5.1 scoreless. I agree it might be a stretch to consider him MLB depth, but he might not be so far away.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        rjostewart, check Barnes combined 2013 ERA was 8.48 between the two teams he played for.

      • rje49 - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:55 PM

        baseball-reference has Matt Barnes’ ERA at 4.13 between AA and AAA in 2013. That’s 4.33 at Portland(AA) and 0.00 at Pawtucket (AAA). Lifetime minors (2 years) ERA of 3.48.
        Hope that settles it.

  4. cackalackyank - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Dempster is being coy. He just wants quality time with A-rod.

  5. emdash01 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    Seems like a bit of a trend lately, with Gutierrez going the same way. Can’t imagine the players’ association is happy about it, and it’s not a great idea on the players’ part. Take the money you’re owed while you can – the teams aren’t going to give you an extra contract because you were nice enough to not make them pay you for a year.

  6. ez4u2sa - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    No problem. Dempster was mentioned as possible trade bait along with Peavey. Anyway, the Sox are loaded with pitchers. Dempster’s decision will just provide someone else with an opportunity to move up.

    • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:36 AM

      The Sox have a number of options, but they don’t have a lot of great options. And this was even before Dempster’s decision to sit out 2014. Boston has the flexibility to sign Drew and Jimenez/Santana. The question is which need to more pressing.

      I’m not a big fan of the Beantown starters. Outside of Lester, and he only posted a dominant second half of 2013, every hurler comes with questions, and some of those answers won’t be positive.

      Is Peavy finished? Can Buchholtz stay healthy enough to be counted on? Which Lackey will show up in 2014? Are the 2013 flashes from Doubront for real or in the pan?

      Look for the Sox to address their starting core before Drew.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        I should have included Workman as a possible alternative, although his minor league numbers aren’t great, but he was impressive in 2013 as a reliever. Webster however, hasn’t shown the command a Big League pitcher needs. He has promise but 2014 would be a stretch.

      • nolasoxfan2012 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM

        Seriously??? Dempster wasn’t even lined up to be in the rotation at this point. He was looking at being a middle reliever and even in that he was probably going to be pushed by all the young talent in AA and AAA. They don’t have the slightest need for SP help.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        Your counting on Buchholtz being healthy? Peavy? Really seriously?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM

        They don’t have the slightest need for SP help.

        Peavy – three of the last four years he’s pitched under 145 IP and had a worse ERA compared to the league
        Buccholz – six years of service time, never pitched more than 190 IP in a season, and only twice has pitched more than 110 IP
        Lackey – one year removed from TJ surgery, and two previous years he was worse than league average by ERA+ (as spud mentioned)
        Doubront – Never pitched more than 163 IP in a season, below average ERA+ as a starter (and averages less than 6IP a start)

        That’s 4 of your 5 starters, and you think things are settled?

      • 18thstreet - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        They won the World Expletive Series with that rotation. It’s at least pretty good.

      • spudchukar - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM

        “Pretty Good”, scares the hell out of me if I am the manager of a Big League team and you are speaking of my pitching.

      • rje49 - Feb 16, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        All that talk of 6 starters; a glut of pitching! What will they ever do with them all? So much for that! Did anybody think they would never need a 6th starter? C’mon, get real. I didn’t think they would “lose” one of their starters even before SP opened, but it had to happen sooner or later. Having 6 capable starters is depth, and a good thing…. or was.

  7. 18thstreet - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Holy crap. This is great news for the Red Sox and their fans. I wish Ryan Dempster all the best.

    The Red Sox got very lucky to have not traded Jake Peavy or John Lackey during the winter. (And trading Dempster might have been the worst-case scenario, because they’d be stuck with a controversy from trading an injured pitcher. Five starters lined up, with some great options for spot starts when one of them gets hurt. Workman and Webster are, presumably the first choices, and since the season opens with way fewer offdays than is usually the case in April, they will need five starters at least until the beginning of May, and then at the end of the month, too.

    I have to wonder if the Sox suspected that Dempster wasn’t coming back, which is why they never made a trade to begin with.

    • sportsfan18 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      Yes, I wish Ryan and his family all the best. While Ryan isn’t close to the best pitcher in baseball, he has been a good pitcher over his career.

      He could have gone through the motions and simply collected his paycheck but he did not want to do that. It takes more to give up a guaranteed $13.5 million than to walk away from it.

      His daughter has a disease and he created a foundation for it. While still being a millionaire athlete, on past teams (certainly the Cubs) he was respected as an everyday man and the fans felt for him due to his daughter.

      Also, while on the Cubs, Dempster lived in a condo only 4 blocks from Wrigley field. Most home games he walked to the ballpark and then walked home afterwards.

      On some walks home, Ryan would stop by other people’s home on his way home (Cubs fans) who were BBQ’ing outside and having some beers. They’d give him a beer and he’d stand and talk with them for a while.

      Not many athletes making north of $10 mill a season do things like this, walk home, stop and talk with fans in their yards and drink a beer with them.

      Again, he is not a saint and he is not a great pitcher but he’s always been a good guy to have on the team. No staff has five number one pitchers so arms are needed in the #4 and #5 slots in the rotation.

      I hope his daughter is well first and foremost. I fear this is the end for him as his contract will be over with the Red Sox, he’s already older and will not have pitched.

      Even if he doesn’t want to retire, he may not have a choice in the spring of 2015. Since all teams always look for pitching, if he wants to try, I’m sure he’ll get some spring training invites, with NO guarantees of making the club…

      If this is the end Ryan, thanks for the memories (I”m a Cubs fan and I’ve watched him pitch at Wrigley).

  8. proudlycanadian - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Sign Ervin!

  9. peddealer - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:35 AM

    I don’t think chemistry is an incredibly important element of a winning team,

    JSP, you are officially the idiot of the day….

    You’re so stupid its amazing…

    • js20011041 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      Umm, are you serious? Since you are evidently making the assertion that chemistry promotes winning rather than chemistry resulting from winning, please explain how you know this. You have the burden of proof and the floor is yours.

  10. onbucky96 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    Thankfully he didn’t take the Brewers money. GO CREW!

  11. dirtyharry1971 - Feb 16, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    Dempster would have been a great fit for the bluejays too, just a little too expensive is all.

  12. tfbuckfutter - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:22 PM


    And hey Ryan, maybe the reason you don’t feel up to your usual standards is because you can’t pitch in the AL.

    That’s not your fault though. It’s the front office’s for thinking you could.

    Let’s hope they learned a lesson (They didn’t. They never do when it comes to barely-above-average NL pitchers)

    • 18thstreet - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:06 PM

      Ben Cherington took a last place team, shed huge chunks of the payroll AND received quality prospects in return. He took that money and signed a half-dozen free agents — all of whom, except for Dempster, exceeded our wildest expectations. And they won the World Series.

      I sure hope they learned their lesson.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        When it comes to signing middling NL pitchers, I agree.

        I hope they learned their lesson. That it is almost always a ridiculously stupid move.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:09 PM

        Sorry….not just “signing”.

        Trading for the aforementioned pitchers is actually stupider.

      • 18thstreet - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        Go take a look at the dregs that the team trotted out there in September of 2011 to start games. If a pitcher of merely Ryan Dempster’s quality had been on that team, the Red Sox would have gone to the playoffs.

        The starters’ ERA in September and October was 6.17.

        So they signed Dempster to be a 4th starter. And if you’re going to complain that they overpaid, fine. But don’t pretend that AN GM is going to have success with every last free agent. Judge Cherington on the totality of his moves, and stop focusing on the worst one.

        THEY WON A WORLD SERIES. THE RED SOX WON A WORLD SERIES, you ungrateful bastard. I’m old enough to remember thinking that might never happen in my lifetime. But I never thought that Red Sox fans like yourself would ever be so spoiled so fast. I’m just amazed you’re not complaining that it took them six whole games, instead of four.

      • tfbuckfutter - Feb 16, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        I don’t believe any AL GM will ever have success in signing middling NL pitchers and expecting anything but below-average performance.

        Which is precisely what Dempster suggested he would provide just by his career alone, then demonstrated it was what he would provide in a (ridiculously stupid on the Rangers part) late season trade to Texas, and delivered after an equally stupid signing by the Red Sox.

        Just because the team won the Series doesn’t mean all their decisions were the right ones. And acquiring mediocre NL pitching is a mistake the team makes over and over again from Jeff Suppan (who they had first hand knowledge of being a terrible AL pitcher) to John Burkett to Dempster.

        And what the hell does trying to squeak into the 2011 playoffs and most likely getting bounced immediately have to do with anything?

        But here’s a fun fact since we’re playing with history….if they had had him in AUGUST of 2011 and he performed like he did in AUGUST of 2013 when he posted an ERA far worse than the staff in September of 2011 then they probably wouldn’t have even been in contention in the last couple weeks of that season anyway.

        But, I’m sorry for focusing on this being a bad signing by the Red Sox instead of celebrating what they got out of Mike Napoli….since this is, after all, a thread about the Mike Napoli signing and not about Ryan Dempster and what his departure may mean to the Sox fortune this season.

  13. ltzep75 - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    Why do people seem to think that this causes the Red Sox to do anything? You can never have too much pitching, sure, but its not as if what’s available on the market is anything other than a flaming stack of used tires.

    It’s not as if the Red Sox are hurting for money, and BBREF has the overall salary (with dempster) at $165mm. Besides, if any money was “free’d up”, it would likely get allotted to an extension for Lester.

    As for Drew, while the players likely would enjoy it if he returned, there’s no pressing need for him. Seems as though whatever role he would play would be better served by a utility guy used to the left side of the infield. A bag of balls trade for guys like Callaspo, Aviles, or Punto shores up any infield depth concerns just as much as throwing $10+mm at stephen drew.

  14. jerrahsucks - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    Dumpster just wants to wait till 2015, so he can try to dance with Arod again. Has some kind of man crush on Alex.

  15. yordo - Feb 16, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    He didn’t like the way that cellar dwelling team was shaping up this year.

  16. baseballlifestyle101 - Feb 16, 2014 at 1:26 PM

    Reblogged this on Baseball Lifestyle101 and commented:
    Ryan Dempster will not play in 2014

  17. therooneyskilledwebster - Feb 16, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    Look forward to seeing him on April 4 at Fenway for what is becoming an all too common occurrence; a world championship ring ceremony for the Red Sox.

  18. pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 2:28 PM

    I love the rotation. Number 6 is the one who left. How many teams wouldn’t want a 4-5 of Peavy-Doubront? There’s depth in AAA too. They will miss the depth at the Major League level. This isn’t a great thing for the Sox. I don’t know how that can be rationalized. I also don’t think should make any difference in any decision involving Drew.

    • tfbuckfutter - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:48 PM

      I think it’s a great thing for the Sox.

      They once again got out of a really bad contract they never should have signed.

      Dempster posted an ERA+ of 89.

      So he was 11% worse than league average (which should have been expected) for the low low price of….what….two, three times the league average salary?

      • pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:17 PM

        Dempster had one year left on his deal. The contract wasn’t a problem. Unless they can find a starter who’s free to sign a one year deal, who also won’t cost the Sox their first round pick, losing Dempster is not a plus. The Red Sox aren’t a better team today than they were yesterday.

  19. slaugin - Feb 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    You can pick any pitching staff in the league and find holes on it and reasons to add more arms. I’d say the Red Sox have a better Rotation than atleast 3/4 of the league and would take them over the Yanks staff right now

  20. keltictim - Feb 16, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    Js2001 I believe last years Red Sox proved chemistry is very important. That chemistry began in spring training after coming off of a historically bad season, there was no winning to base said chemistry on. The sox took a gamble on several chemistry/clubhouse guys and it paid off big time.

  21. pastabelly - Feb 16, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    I suppose Workman now moves up into the six slot and they’ll stretch him out in March and keep him in the bullpen until they need him. They should keep the $13M and save it for a deadline pickup.

  22. patshal - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    That’s too bad. The sox could use him. The more starters, the better. Every team has to expect an injury of some sort.

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