Sunday, February 16, 2014

Dempster decision simultaneously clarifies 2014, and opens up possibilities

Almost out of nowhere, Ryan Dempster has decided not to play this season. He stopped short of an official retirement, but coming off one of the worst seasons of his career and a lingering neck injury, it wouldn't be shocking if he didn't pitch again in the majors.

The move takes away the Red Sox pitching depth - prior to the decision Dempster was one of six pitchers competing for a spot in the starting rotation, with the 5th spot probably down to Dempster and Doubront. Now, the Red Sox starting 5 is set, and they still have good depth in the high minors with Brandon Workman, Allen Webster, and Rubby de la Rosa. This move probably impacts Workman more than anyone, given his success in the majors last year, both as a starter and a high leverage reliever. Now, he would be the first to step in to the rotation in case of injury or ineffectiveness (at least from Doubront), and the path to him staying a starting pitcher is much clearer. It also means he'll likely stay in the minors to start the season.

This also gives the Red Sox some substantial financial wiggle room. According to Scott Lauber, of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox had about $7 million of salary room before they'd hit the luxury cap threshold. If Ryan Dempster were placed on the restricted list, likely given his decision not to pitch this year, the Red Sox wouldn't be responsible for his $13.25 million salary, nor would it count against the luxury tax threshold. Now, the Red Sox have about $20 million to play with, allowing them to either resign Stephen Drew or give them the flexibility to make multiple major in-season acquisitions without surpassing the threshold.

Finally, best of luck to Ryan Dempster in his future endeavors. At 36 and dealing with nagging injuries, it is completely understandable that he is ready to put his family first. It is also remarkable that he is willing to give up $13 million because he doesn't think he can do an acceptable job pitching this year. He's already made almost $90 million in his career, so hopefully his family will be set for generations to come.

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