Red Sox Very Interested In ERA Leader Ryan Dempster
By Conor Duffy
The Cubs are in a bad way this season, they stand fifth in the NL Central and have the fourth worst record in baseball. Despite this, there’s no question that this year, they’ll have some valuable trade chips to sell at the deadline. These include Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza, and perhaps most valuable– Ryan Dempster. 35 year old Ryan Dempster is having a season for the ages in 2012, leading baseball with a 1.86 ERA– yet he is only 5-3 due to the Cubs’ ineptitude. It’s been rumored that up to ten teams are interested in adding Dempster to their rotation and apparently the Red Sox are not only one of them, but a very aggressive one too.
Dempster has been absolutely dominant this year in standard stats, but peripheral stats show that he may not be the best in baseball. For example, the opponents’ BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a ridiculously low .242– the average is around .300, showing that there may be some luck involved for Dempster. His ground ball rate is actually his lowest mark since 2002, but he has benefitted by only 6.7 home runs per fly ball, well below his career rate of 10.2. Also, his FIP and xFIP (FIP measures what a pitcher’s ERA would be on only things he can control– home runs, walks, and strikeouts– generally a good measure of what a pitcher’s ERA should be, xFIP is park adjusted) are not quite so kind to him at 3.13 and 3.71 respectively.
However, Theo Epstein and the Cubs management will be selling Dempster based on his results rather than his peripherals, so a big package will be due. After serving as a GM in Boston for nearly ten years, Epstein knows the farm system hands down and would likely already have a package planned out. To acquire Dempster, the Red Sox may have to include one of the killer B’s– Matt Barnes, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley, the top three prospects according to SoxProspects. There’s no doubt that they would have to include multiple top ten prospects though, and that may not suit them.
Obviously, my interest would depend on who the prospects were, but I don’t think this is a good idea. A two month rental of Dempster would help the Red Sox tremendously down the stretch, possibly being the difference between a playoff spot or no. However, I’d rather miss the playoffs and two months of Ryan Dempster than six years of Matt Barnes– who projects to be a future ace– or Jackie Bradley– the second coming of Jacoby Ellsbury. Seeing as this would only be a two month rental, and the new CBA ensures the Red Sox would not get draft picks after acquiring him midseason, I would pass on him. I don’t think that a few extra wins in 2012 is worth gobs of wins in the next generation.