With their outfield bolstered through the signings of Johnny Gomes and Shane Victorino, the Red Sox have turned their focus to strengthening their pitching staff. On Thursday, the Sox reached a two-year, $26.5 million deal with right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Dempster.
According to ESPN’s Gordon Edes, Dempster turned down a two-year, $25 million offer last week from the Red Sox because he wanted a three-year deal, but apparently has decided to settle for a two-year agreement for more money.
The 35-year old Dempster had a great first half with the Cubs last season (2.25 ERA in 16 starts) before being dealt to the Rangers at the trade dealine. In 12 starts with the Rangers, his first AL stint in his 15-year career , Dempster finished 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA.
If nothing else, Dempster has the chance to be very reliable and durable arm in the Red Sox rotation. Despite his age, last season was the first time Dempster finished under 200 innings pitched (173 in 2012) since he moved back out of the bullpen in 2008.
It’s worth noting that over his career against the Sox’ AL East opponents, Dempster is 4-8 in 17 starts with a 4.91 ERA and has has been particularly poor against the Yankees, going 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA in five starts against them.
As to be expected with an aging veteran, Dempster has recently lost some zip on his fastball but can still be a methodical, smart pitcher. He can certainly be an effective addition, but no Sox fans should expect him to be the rotation’s savior.