The relatively surprising news that Ryan Dempster will not be pitching in the 2014 season is a blessing in disguise for the Boston Red Sox.
It does a couple things for them: By losing Dempster to temporary retirement, the Red Sox have now freed up the log jam that was their starting rotation. It also puts a nice chunk of money ($13.25 million) back on the books for Ben Cherington and company to play with.
By no means was Ryan Dempster going to be a pivotal cog for the Red Sox this year. He was probably the odd-man out of the rotation. He is an aging veteran who would turn 37 in May. And he had the highest ERA of any pitcher on the Sox to throw more than 60 innings pitched.
However, what Dempster lacked in dominance, he made for in durability and depth. With Dempster on the team, the Sox were looking at 6 veteran pitchers to fill their starting rotation with. Here’s what he had to say about taking the year off:
“I had an incredible run, a chance to play 16 years in the major leagues and be around a lot of great teammates, made a lot of good friendships, great friendships… The past few years have been tougher and tougher. As you get older, going through some things, some issues I have with my neck that have made it harder and harder to throw a baseball and throw it like I’m accustomed to throw it.”
The door closing on Dempster only means the opening of the door for many of the youngsters that Boston would like to see at the major league level at some point in the season. Take a look at some of the names: Drake Britton, Henry Owens, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Matt Barnes, Brandon Workman, and Anthony Ranaudo.
There’s no shortage of up-and-coming talent for Boston, it’s just a matter of finding a role for them, especially the younger guys like Barnes, Owens, and Ranaudo. You don’t want to take a guy away from consistent innings in the minors to pitch sporadically at the big league level if they need the work; the same goes for hitters.
My personal favorite out of the bunch is Brandon Workman, who fearlessly came out of the bullpen throughout the postseason–including 3.1 innings in the World Series without allowing a run. I believe he’ll project to be the swingman for Boston this season, meaning he can give you long innings out of the ‘pen, or make spot starts for the club down the road as the season progresses. He’s got high velocity to go with a nasty hook, leading him to a 10.15 K/9 ratio last season, so his development should be intriguing.
The big question everybody’s asking is what will the Sox do with the money freed up from Dempster? There’s a lot of speculation about being able to re-sign Stephen Drew without going over the luxury tax threshold ($189 million), or adding another veteran arm through free agency. I think the most logical scenario would be to bring Drew back on a number under that $14.1 million last offered to him, considering the Sox seem to have all the leverage now.
Other Red Sox news:
-Andrew Miller avoided arbitration and has signed a 1-year deal with the Red Sox.
– The Red Sox signed former closer Francisco Cordero to a minor league deal.
– Jake Peavy is scheduled to see a hand specialist for his lingering finger issues