As predicted, the Red Sox have turned their focus to pitching this offseason, offering a two year pact to Ryan Dempster. Dempster enjoyed his best season since 2008 between the Cubs and Rangers, going 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA. However, there are certifiable reasons to not offer the 35 year old a three year contract, as he was hammered after joining the American League Rangers.
With Bill James seemingly playing a large role in offseason decisions this year, it’s a bit surprising that the Red Sox even offered the 2 year/$25 million pact to Dempster. His strikeout rate declined for the second consecutive season, to an admittedly respectable 7.96 in 2012. His low ERA can at least partially be attributed to a low BABIP (.277 compared to a career mark of .301), as his peripherals are a bit sketchy, though not terrible.
Perhaps most alarming about his sharp decline upon joining the Rangers was a spike in his home run rate. After joining the Rangers, who play in a hitter’s ballpark, he allowed 1.3 home runs per nine innings. As a fly ball pitcher, it’s likely that he would post similarly high home run rates if he were to join the Red Sox.
If Dempster were to join the hard-hitting AL East, it’s quite possible that he would get destroyed. Particularly if he were to receive a three year deal to keep him in Boston until his age 37 season, he may be in trouble. Even though most pitchers are bound to slip a little upon joining the AL East, I think that Dempster would fall more than some. The Red Sox would be better served going after Kyle Lohse, or on a bigger deal, Anibal Sanchez.