Nov 2, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster walks along Boylston Street during the World Series parade and celebration. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Ryan Dempster Dilemma

He pitches a lot of innings.”

When a statement like that is tossed out about a pitcher the storm warning flags are fluttering.

Ryan Dempster appears to be everything you want in a teammate and even a neighbor. Dempster says all the rights things, especially when he was sent to the bullpen in the playoffs. Dempster is an easy interview, not an excuse machine, a jovial person, parties with the best of them and pitches a lot of innings.

Now what about those innings?

Dempster took the ball for 29 starts and finished with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Just what you would expect from a #5 starter. Very similar to his toe dip in the AL in 2012. Certainly nothing special.

Dempster certainly contributed as the Sox, if my aged memory is correct, did win a World Series. However, Dempster’s post season contribution was minimal with a three inning effort. One inning against each post season opponent.

So where does Dempster fit in for 2014?

His salary is difficult to move. A tad over 13M. He goes the Sox will have to pony-up some serious contributions to that total. The return would probably be the proverbial “who” that sends you to Baseball-Reference to see just “who” is.

So what do you do with him?

IMO Dempster is just a very expensive insurance policy. Clay Buchholz, primarily, is the one that appears one step away from triage with every pitch. And if we learn anything from history the Sox never seem to have enough starters. Remember the what are we going to do with John Smoltz controversy?

The Sox have a projected five man rotation and at this point Dempster is sixth. That means relief or spot starter. That sixth could go lower if development trends continue regarding the plethora of minor league talent.

Maybe a market will be created? Dempster has done rather well in the NL, so just maybe a market will surface that will lower the Red Sox contributions and make a transfer to another roster possible. Injuries, salary disputes, vengeful GM’s, managerial doghouses and minor league phenom’s being not so phenomenal could open up possibilities.

I’m sure Ben Cherington will tell prospective suitors that “He pitches a lot of innings.”

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Tags: Boston Red Sox Ryan Dempster

  • Earl Nash

    Yup, good points: the Dempster is an innings eater with a high salary. If he stays with the Sox, he is that emergency or spot starter and a pen fill-in. If an NL GM can convince himself that Demp will do better in his league, there may be a UT inf. to be found out there.

    Conor suggested that Juan Uribe would be a good UT fit. He’ll be 35 to start next, but LA is vacant at third base. So, Demp with full salary to LA for Uribe? Maybe trade Will Middle to LA?

    • John Fahrer

      $13.25 million to be a reliever is a rather steep price to pay even with this payroll. If there’s not a market for Dempster, there will be for one or two of the other veterans to make room in the rotation for him.

      Would take a flier on Jeff Baker before Uribe. Less baggage. No need to trade for Uribe since he’s actually a free agent right now.

      • Earl Nash

        Wonder how much Uribe could ask for at age 34? Final 2013 stats: .278 batting average, 12 home runs,
        50 RBI and 22 doubles in 388 at-bats, with .331 and .448 on-base and
        slugging percentages, with five errors.

        I like Baker and would also see Michael Young as a Super-Sub.

        • John Fahrer

          My biggest stigma about Uribe is that murder allegation from a few years back.

          Always liked Young. But unless 2013 was an aberration, probably best to lay off. Not hitting as well and his fielding is regressing.

  • John Fahrer

    If Doubront is dealt in a package for Stanton, that makes room in the rotation for Dempster. If not, they’ll look to trade one of the veterans not named Lester. Possibly two depending on what they prefer to do with Brandon Workman. They might have the most trade leverage if they bring all six to ST.

    • Len Biz

      Package Dumpster and Peavy for Stanton…leave Doubront alone!

      • Rick M

        Looking at Miami I doubt they will want age and salary. They are usually enticed by MLB ready or top of the line prospects. Last time around with Sox they got Sanchez and Handley. They’d probably want a Felix and/or Middlebrooks and at least two top of the line prospects. Be tough to pry Stanton loose.

        • John Fahrer

          The only clubs that’ll be interested in those guys are other contenders.

      • John Fahrer

        The Marlins aren’t going to take two expensive pitchers with their best days behind them for a young, cost-effective power hitter. They’ll want young players who are inexpensive and have a future.