Kevin C. Cox
Two years certainly beats three with any free agent hurler
The worry many Red Sox fans seem to have about Ryan Dempster is his age. After all, he'll be 36 in 2013, so a three-year deal would see him leaving Boston after his age-38 campaign. It's an understandable, if perhaps overstated, concern. Boston, intent on limiting risk and increasing roster flexibility, shares the view enough to be attempting to get Dempster for just the two seasons, though, and according to Alex Speier, Dempster's camp is now more receptive to that than they were this past weekend, when they rejected Boston's two-year, $25 million offer.
This likely means the Red Sox had to increase the average annual value over Dempster's requested $13 million per season, but if there's one thing Boston has plenty of left, it's financial flexibility. A starting pitcher was likely the last expensive acquisition of the off-season -- barring trades that ship money out as well as bring it in -- and the Red Sox have about $35 million of it left before the luxury tax looms. Bumping Dempster to $14 million or $15 million in order to keep a third season from happening is something they can easily afford to do, with plenty of room for in-season maneuverability left over. In fact, that's more money leftover than Boston had to spend last off-season.
It's not official that they have increased the money, but it's fair speculation. Either way, it sounds as if things are close if the two sides have agreed to cut that third year out, meaning Dempster might even sign today.