Gibsons Ryan Dempster will be trying on a new pair of red sox this Christmas — some Boston Red Sox.
The 35-year-old, free-agent right-hander signed a two-year $26.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 13.
“I think looking at everything and at this point in my career and with my family, it just seemed like the best fit from a baseball stand point,” said Dempster in an interview with Coast Reporter Dec. 17. “With everything that went on in Boston last year, this is kind of a fresh start for the team, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
Boston has been busy in the free-agent market this off-season. locking up outfielder Shane Victorino, who finished last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Just hours before Coast Reporter spoke with Dempster, Boston signed free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew, who played last year with the Oakland Athletics, and the Sox are close to finalizing a deal with free-agent catcher Mike Napoli, with whom Dempster played late last year with the Texas Rangers.
“The signings that Boston made also made things more attractive,” Dempster said. “I’m looking forward to playing for manager John Farrell. Boston is committed to winning. It’s a winning environment and a winning attitude.”
Dempster received interest from several clubs during the off-season, including the Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals.
He said the free-agency process is an “interesting dynamic.”
“One minute you have one team saying something, then you find out another team is in the mix,” Dempster said. “When Zack [Grenkie] signed with Los Angeles, that was a major player out of the mix. Then Kansas City was interested in me, and then they made their deal with Tampa for Shields [James]. Things change so quickly. At the end of the day, Boston made the best push and the best offer.”
A 15-year Major League veteran, Dempster was the heart of the Cubs’ rotation and relief corps for nine years before he was traded last July to the Rangers. He struggled at the start of his stint with Texas, before winning five straight starts and posting a 1.91 ERA striking out 36 in 33 innings.
Over his career against the American League East and Red Sox opponents, Dempster is 4-8 in 17 starts. With the Toronto Blue Jays pulling off several blockbuster trades in recent weeks and the New York Yankees resigning several of its coveted free-agent pitchers, the AL East is possibly the toughest and most competitive division in baseball.
Dempster said he is looking forward to the challenge.
“When you look at it on paper, yeah, the AL East is going to be very competitive and challenging, but that makes it fun,” he said. “We’re competitive and we’re in this businesses to compete. That’s why we play this game — to have fun, to compete and to win. I was fortunate to play all those years in Chicago in front of some great fans. Now I get a chance to play in front of 46,000 every night at Fenway Park. I’m excited about the possibility of winning. That’s the bottom line for me and I think we can do that in Boston.”
Dempster joins a Red Sox rotation that includes Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales heading into spring training in March.