Ryan Dempster picks up 2012 option

The first offseason transaction of the Theo Epstein era didn't require any work from the Chicago Cubs new president of baseball operations.

Cubs starting pitcher Ryan Dempster on Saturday picked up his one-year, $14 million option to return the team for the 2012 season, the Cubs announced on Twitter.

Dempster posted a disappointing 10-14 record and 4.80 ERA in 2011. But his reliability -- 2011 was the fourth consecutive season in which Dempster has surpassed the 200-inning mark -- has made him a valuable piece of the Cubs' rotation.

The move was somewhat expected. Dempster has spent the past eight of his 13 major league seasons in Chicago. He is very active in the community through his Dempster Family Foundation.

In a recent interview on ESPN 1000's "Talkin' Baseball," Dempster expressed his desire to remain with the Cubs for 2012 and beyond.

"But I love playing in Chicago. I love being a Chicago Cub, and I want to be here for the rest of my career," Dempster said on Oct. 22. "I'm happy that Theo is going to be in charge now and really looking forward and excited and getting an opportunity talk with him. And hopefully it's not just picking up an option for this year, but I'll go out there and play the best I can and be here for a long time."

With 358 appearences, Dempster ranks ninth all-time in games pitched as a Cub. His 8.235 strikeouts per nine innings is good for fifth on the Cubs' all-time list.