Dempster can be free agent after season

Chicago Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster, who is in the third year of a four-year, $44 million contract, can opt out of his fourth year. Dempster has an option to become a free agent for a brief period of time in October before free agency begins.

Dempster will make $14 million in 2012 if he decides to return to the Cubs.

The veteran right-hander, who will start Opening Day, deferred $3 million in 2010 so the Cubs could use that money to sign free-agent outfielder Marlon Byrd. According to an MLB source, the Cubs decided to pay Dempster back the entire amount during the winter, even though they had a number of years to pay off the deferment.