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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Red Sox Finally Add To Their Pitching Rotation: Sign Ryan Dempster To 2-Year Deal

At long last, the Red Sox have finally at least started to address their biggest need: their pitching rotation. After he supposedly turned down a two-year, $25 million deal last week with Boston, Ryan Dempster has reportedly agreed to a two-year, $26.5 million deal this afternoon with them.

He was apparently looking for a three-year deal so after turning down the Red Sox and Royals, the Canadian righthander circled back to Boston. You have to think that maybe winning had something to do with his final decision since the Royals offered him a two-year deal for $26 million and while they have improved thanks to the James Shields trade, Boston has more potential moving forward.

So what are the Red Sox getting in him? Basically, he is the perfect guy to slot into the number three spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. In his 15 years of MLB service, he has thrown over 200 innings seven times (including four years in a row). More than anything, that's what Boston needs: a pitcher that they know will take the ball every fifth day and not spend half the season on the disabled list (like Buchholz or Josh Beckett).

Dempster is getting up there in age, he'll turn 36 on May 3 so that is why they were probably hesitant to offer a third year. Plus he had two different trips to the DL last season with a strained quad and strained lat that cost him another 200-inning campaign. He got off to a real good start (5-5 with 2.25 ERA and 1.038 WHIP) last season for an awful Cubs team before getting traded to Texas at the trade deadline.

Predictably for a player that had spent his whole career in the inferior National League (no DH, facing pitchers), he struggled with the Rangers. He got shelled in his first two starts but then won five games in a row before regressing at the end when the games mattered the most and Texas ended up missing the playoffs. For 2012 between the Cubs and Rangers, he was 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.179 WHIP in 173 innings. He struck out 153 and only walked 52.

A two-time NL All-Star (2000 with Florida and 2008 with Chicago) that is 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, his numbers certainly won't blow you away and he's more control pitcher (he loves the slider and sinker) than a power pitcher. In his career, he's 124-124 with 4.33 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 11 complete games, three shutouts, 87 saves (he was Chicago's closer for three years), 1918 strikeouts and 998 walks.

The Red Sox will be his fifth and possibly final MLB home after time in Florida, Cincinnati, Chicago and Texas. He's known as a clubhouse leader and a mature guy that is along the same lines as Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes, David Ross and Mike Napoli in that regard. You can see where Boston is going this offseason: they are trying to distance themselves from the overpaid, underachieving, injury-prone jackasses of the last few seasons. In their place, they want dependable guys that have been around a while and had success in MLB. Dempster hasn't been on many winning teams but that's not his fault. As he showed last season, it might take some time here but I wouldn't hesitate to count on him for a very respectable 2013 season.





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