The Red Sox won 69 games last season and posted their worst record in more than four decades.
The 35-year-old Dempster, who got a two-year, $26.5 million deal from the Red Sox, certainly represents an upgrade over the types of pitchers the team signed a year ago to supplement their staff, injury risks such as Aaron Cook and Vicente Padilla. He has pitched 200 or more innings in four of the last five seasons and in 2012, when he fell short of that figure, he was in considerable demand before Texas nabbed him at the All-Star break, ranking second in the National League with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for a struggling Cubs team.
The Cubs, Brewers and Royals all took runs at Dempster before he signed with the Red Sox, who showed as much interest in him as anyone, he said Wednesday. He turned down their first offer of two-years and $25 million, but when it became apparent he was not going to get a three-year deal anywhere, he took Boston’s upgraded offer.
Given his track record, the 15-year veteran with a .500 lifetime record (124-124) and 4.33 ERA figures to slot third in the Sox rotation, behind Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz and ahead of John Lackey and Felix Doubront, although that’s just speculation at this point.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again,’’ GM Ben Cherington said Wednesday. “We’re excited to have Ryan Dempster, but we believe the performance of the guys who are already here is going to have a bigger effect on the overall rotation than any one player we add. But I think he is a really good fit for a lot of reasons.’’