While a major league source said that the Red Sox and free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster are talking but declined to characterize the precise state of negotiations, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (via Twitter), said that the two sides are 'close' to a deal with the veteran right-hander. Another industry source said that the two sides appear to be discussing the framework of a two-year deal.
An industry source said last week that the Red Sox have expressed interest in the veteran, who was 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.
The right-hander, according to a source familiar with his thinking, was seeking a three-year deal. When Dan Haren agreed to a one-year, $13 million deal with the Nationals, Dempster -- who is coming off of a four-year, $52 million deal he signed with the Cubs after the 2008 season -- identified that figure as a baseline for the average annual value he seeks. ESPNBoston.com reported last week that the right-hander rejected a two-year, $25 million offer from the Sox.
Dempster vetoed a potential deal to the Braves last summer, when he preferred to go to the Dodgers at the trade deadline, but ultimately, when Los Angeles didn’t part with prospect Allen Webster (who later was traded by the Dodgers to the Sox in the August blockbuster), Chicago dealt him to Texas for minor league third baseman Christian Villanueva.
Dempster, according to the source, was not ruling out any teams on the basis of geography. While the longtime NL pitcher (he’s spent all but two months of his career in the National League) has a slight preference to stay in the senior circuit, he wasn’t ruling out teams on the basis of that.
While Dempster figures to land an eight-figure multi-year contract this winter, because he was traded mid-season, he will not cost the team that acquires him a draft pick -- a significant consideration for the Sox and other teams this winter.
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