Ryan Dempster has mostly pitched in the National League throughout his career, except for a brief stint with the Rangers this past season. That isn't stopping two American League teams, as well as the National League's Brewers, from attempting to sign him this off-season. The Red Sox, Angels, and Milwaukee are all checking in on Dempster, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
Rosenthal says Dempster would like a three-year deal, but that doesn't mean it's what he'll get. He'll be 36 in 2012, and while he's been mostly durable, he's also been very average from an ERA+ perspective over the last three years. It's easy to believe teams could like him without being willing to commit to him for a considerable amount of time, and at his age, anything over two years fits the bill as "considerable." It doesn't mean he won't get three years, though, as plenty of teams are searching for Zack Greinke alternatives, and three years won't look so bad next to his demands.
Dempster threw at least 200 innings per year from 2008 through 2011 following a switch from the bullpen to starting, but made just 28 starts in 2012 after suffering a latissimus dorsi strain in June. While it's not an injury you want to see, given that's in the shoulder, it's not necessarily something that has to be worried about long-term. Boston already has a pitcher on staff who has dealt with a latissimus dorsi issue recently, in Jon Lester. He spent some time on the disabled list and returned to action with his velocity intact, but his mechanics a little out of sorts. Not every injury to that area is as severe as Jake Peavy's, but his was no longer attached to the bone. Just a tiny bit different than Lester and Dempster.
It could have contributed, at least to a degree, to his issues with the Rangers, where Dempster posted a 5.09 ERA in 69 innings and 12 starts. But home runs, statistically, seemed to be his lone issue during his stay there. That'll happen in a park as homer-friendly as Arlington, especially when forced to deal with the Texas' heat in August. After some initial bumps in the road -- 16 runs over his first three starts and 17-1/3 innings -- Dempster was more what you would expect, posting a 4.01 ERA over his last 51 frames and nine starts, with more than a batter punched out per inning and a 2.8 K/BB. It's likely safe to say that if there were any short-term effects from the injury, they were cleared up by season's end.
He could help Boston even if he's just average, as the Red Sox could use an arm that can twirl 200 innings per season embedded in the middle of their rotation. While he'd likely hover around a league-average ERA, especially in the tough AL East, that's something Boston has been missing the last few years in the back-end of their rotation. To make things even more appealing, he wasn't submitted a qualifying offer, as he was dealt mid-season and wasn't eligible.
While there are no rumored terms out there other than the number of years, Jim Bowden predicted a two-year deal for $11 million per season. That's in Boston's wheelhouse, easily, and if they have to go a little higher with the money to make sure he sticks to two seasons, they have the resources to do so.