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Red Sox in Talks with Ryan Dempster


UPDATE: 12/13- Rosenthal says the deal is “close” to being completed.

12/12- According to Ken Rosenthal, the Boston Red Sox are deep in talks with free agent right hander Ryan Dempster. Rosenthal cautions that the deal is not done, however.

Dempster was 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 2012. Image: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Dempster has drawn significant interest from a handful of teams and it has been reported that Dempster has turned down at least three two-year offers, one each from the Brewers, Royals, and Red Sox, who offered two year and $25 million last week. Dempster has been holding out for a third year and it has been said that he’s seeking an average annual value of $13 million per year.

Dempster, 35, spent his entire 15 year career in the National League until he was dealt to the Texas Rangers at the July trade deadline in 2012. Though he was leading the NL in ERA at the time of the trade, Dempster pitched poorly upon arrival in Texas. There are people who dismiss Dempster’s AL struggles by saying that once he got settled, he pitched very well. A quick glance at his game logs shows that’s just not true.

While Dempster did allow eight earned runs in two of his first three starts, he then put together a string of five straight starts where he allowed two runs or fewer. Unfortunately, while the Rngers were faltering down the stretch in September and getting caught from behind by the Oakland A’s, Dempster’s performances trended the wrong way. Over his last four starts, including a loss to Oakland on the season’s final day, Dempster pitched to an ERA of 7.71.

Overall, Dempster wound up going 7-3 as a Ranger, but did so with an ERA of 5.09. He allowed nearly 1.5 baserunners per inning after the trade.

Dempster has seen great success in recent years pitching in the offensively challenged National League, but given his difficulty in the admittedly small sample of his AL work, it’s a scary proposition to put him on the mound consistently at Fenway Park facing the likes of the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Orioles on a consistent basis.

A three-year contract wouldn’t end until his age-39 season, making this idea of investing in Dempster an even bigger gamble.