Another one of the upper-tier free agent pitchers found a home on Thursday, as Ryan Dempster
agreed to a two-year contract with the Boston Red Sox. Dempster had split time with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers during the 2012 season.
Dempster has spent almost his entire career pitching in the National League before being traded to the the Texas Rangers last season at the trade deadline. The two-year deal, reportedly worth $26.5 million, will keep the righthander in Boston through his age 37 season.
After a down 2011 season, when he posted a 4.80 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, while striking out 191 batters in 202-plus innings pitched, Dempster had a bounce back year in 2012. His pre-trade 2.25 ERA put him in the top three of that category in the National League. After being traded to Texas he didn't fair as well, but did end the season with a 3.38 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 155 strikeouts in 173 innings pitched.
Even though his numbers after joining Texas were not impressive, the small sample size cannot give a true indication of Dempster's future success as an American League pitcher. Before the trade the veteran hurler did miss a few games at the end of June, and there could have been some lingering fatigue from the injury that sidelined him. Even though the outcome was not as good in the AL, Dempster still posted a 9.1 K/9 rate and maintained a 2.80 to 1 strikeout-to-walk ratio after joining the Rangers.
In Boston, Dempster could slot in as the Red Sox number two starter in the rotation behind Jon Lester
. Barring any further off-season moves, the rest of the rotation will fill out with Clay Buchholz
, Felix Doubront
, and John Lackey
, with Franklin Morales
having a shot to steal the fourth or fifth spot.
From a fantasy standpoint, you have to focus on what Ryan Dempster has done as a whole over the past three years, and expect his ERA and possibly WHIP to be a notch higher. He has had a problem with giving up home runs in the past, but that weakness should not be any more exposed in Fenway Park than it was when he was pitching in Wrigley, but he will be facing American League offenses instead of National League Central batters. Overall his value will take a slight hit, but the group of pitchers he should find himself in on draft day will all have the same upside, and will come down to owner preference.