Multiple industry sources confirmed that the Red Sox have reached a two-year, $26.5 million agreement (pending a physical) with free agent Ryan Dempster. The deal does not include an option. Terms of the deal were first reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via twitter ).
Dempster went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA in 173 innings in 2012 with the Cubs and Rangers, though he went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA after Texas acquired him at the trade deadline. Though 35, Dempster has been durable with a strong track record since moving from the bullpen to the rotation with the Cubs in 2008. Over the last five years, he’s averaged 199 innings a year (2012, in fact, was the first time in that span during which he’d failed to log 200 innings) with a 65-49 record and 3.74 ERA.
One major league source suggested that the Sox should -- and likely do -- have “modest expectations” for the veteran, describing him as the best option available on a relatively short-term deal that permits the team to minimize risk, rather than a true impact starter who can transform a rotation.
“He’ll carve up weaker lineups and will be a positive clubhouse guy,” said the source. “[But it's] hard to expect much against the deeper lineups and I don’t think [the Sox] do.”
Free-agent left-hander Rich Hill, who played with Dempster with the Cubs from 2005-08 and spent the last three seasons with the Red Sox, suggested that the right-hander would make an extremely strong addition in Boston.
"Dempster would be a GREAT addition to that clubhouse," Hill wrote in a text. "One of the best teammates I have played with!"
While there have been questions about how Dempster might adapt to the American League East after spending almost all of his career (save for the last couple months of 2012, after he was traded from the Cubs to the Rangers) in the NL, Hill suggested that the 35-year-old has the stuff and mindset to sustain strong results even with a change of league and division.
"No doubt that he would do extremely well in the East," wrote Hill. "I look at how guys bounce back from outings that did not go so well and he does a great job of that. He has only gotten better as time has gone on. Also, playing in a city like Boston brings everyone's game to their peak level. There is no question his stuff will play!"