Boston Red Sox: Why Signing Ryan Dempster Is Wrong Decision for Boston

Benjamin KleinContributor IIIDecember 12, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 18:  Ryan Dempster #46 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 18, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox made some headway on adding an arm to its starting rotation on Wednesday as they continue to try and land free-agent right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that a potential deal between Boston and Dempster is starting to gain ground:

 

Source: #RedSox, Dempster in serious discussions. No deal yet; still possible he could sign elsewhere.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 12, 2012

 

Just a few days ago Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston reported that Dempster had turned down a two-year, $26 million offer from the Red Sox. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had reported earlier that Dempster had been seeking a three-year offer.

There are a few reasons why talks between Dempster and Boston may have picked up:

  • Boston increased its offer to three years
  • Boston upped the money on the two-year offer
  • Dempster is now seriously considering two-year offers

Based on the report that Dempster turned down Boston’s two-year offer, let’s assume that he still is seeking a three-year deal and won’t be swayed too much on more money for two years. And if Boston is seriously considering signing Dempster to a three-year deal, that’s the wrong decision.

Sure, the Red Sox desperately need to add a frontline or middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher to finish off their starting rotation—currently comprised of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey—but for three years, Dempster is the wrong guy.

The Red Sox have plenty of money left to spend this offseason, but at least $26 million—noted in Boston’s initial offer to Dempster—could be better spent on another free-agent starter such as Kyle Lohse or Anibal Sanchez, both of whom the Red Sox are reportedly interested in, according to Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England.

Dempster had a relatively successful 2012 campaign, split between the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers, but as Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe notes, not everything was so great:

 

Ryan Dempster's numbers for Texas last season would seem like a giant red flag, no?

— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 12, 2012

 

Dempster went 5-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 104 innings with the Cubs before he was dealt to the Rangers. With Texas, Dempster went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA in 69 innings. The best part of Dempster’s season came with Chicago when he didn’t allow a run in 33 consecutive innings. He may have won more games with the Rangers, but he was also working with a more potent offense that could provide him with more run support.

Looking deeper into Dempster’s numbers with the Rangers, he allowed at least four earned runs in five of his 12 starts and didn’t even average six innings per start.

Was his short stint with the Rangers a preview of what’s to come if he signs with an American League team? It’s definitely a possibility for a pitcher with minimal experience against teams using a designated hitter instead of a pitcher.

Giving Dempster three years would be a major investment on a 35-year-old who is no lock to succeed in Boston’s rotation. Some of Boston’s best young pitching talent—Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa and others—will be ready within the next two seasons and once they are ready, the Red Sox won’t need someone like Dempster.

Two years is the absolute maximum that Boston should be willing to give Dempster. If Dempster tells general manager Ben Cherington that he’s only going to sign a three-year deal, Cherington should call his bluff and seek other options on the market.