Boston has competition for the right-handed starter, but they haven't been able to make headway either
Ryan Dempster wants three years, and he also wants to get $13 million per season. This pushed the Angels out of the bidding after the second day at the winter meetings (though, Ken Rosenthal suggests their interest level at this stage is better-classified as "unclear"), but a new challenger has appeared in the form of the Kansas City Royals. The Royals offered Dempster part of what he wanted, with a two-year contract for $26 million, but that wasn't enough for the right-hander, who asked the Royals to go three according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
It should be obvious based on the headline that the Royals did not take kindly to this suggestion, and have yet to go three years for Dempster. And, if they do, it's unknown if they will then reduce the average annual value of the deal so that it's more palatable for them in the long run. Dutton says it's unknown if either side will change their stance, so this might be Kansas City's top offer for Dempster, who at this time might not even have any other concrete offers out there.
While this doesn't change much of anything for Boston, it is informative when the negotiations of other teams come out into the public. Boston now knows a few things about Dempster: a third year is important, and he's serious about getting it even when the per-season money he asked for is presented to him. Then again, for all we know, Dempster has instituted a Royals Tax on any contract offers from them, given he has an opportunity to be on a winning team instead.
While there are certainly jokes to be made that the Red Sox could just offer yet another three-year, $39 million contract to a player in their 30s, Dempster is in a different situation. He's in his mid-30s, for one, and that deal would be exactly what he's asking for. It's a starting point in negotiations, and there could come a time where he has to decide whether it's that third year of the extra money he really wants. Two years at $26 million might be more appealing in a Red Sox uniform than a Royals one, or maybe Boston is able to add some extra money in and go two years for $30 million overall, once again using their flexibility to their advantage on the open market.
That's all speculation, though, and it's still likely, as it was this morning, that no other pitchers sign until Zack Greinke does, in order to see if whatever hefty deal he pulls in can shift the market even more in favor of the players.