Red Sox, Ryan Dempster agree

BOSTON -- The Boston Red Sox on Thursday reached a two-year, $26.5 million agreement with free-agent pitcher Ryan Dempster, according to a baseball source. The deal is pending a physical.

The right-handed Dempster turned down a two-year, $25 million offer last week from the Red Sox and a two-year, $26 million deal from the Royals, according to the source. The 35-year-old Dempster was believed to be seeking a three-year deal but apparently decided to settle for a two-year agreement.

A 15-year veteran, Dempster was a mainstay of the Chicago Cubs' rotation for nine seasons before being dealt to the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline in July. He struggled initially with the Rangers, then reeled off five consecutive wins before tailing off at the end.

Dempster had four straight seasons of at least 200 innings for the Cubs, with whom he had a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts last season before being traded. His stint with the Rangers was his first in the American League after he spent nearly 15 seasons in the National League. He broke in with the Florida Marlins and also pitched two seasons for the Cincinnati Reds.

Two stints on the disabled list this past season cost Dempster a fifth straight season of 200 innings. He missed time early in the season with a strained right quadriceps, and in mid-June he was sidelined for 19 games with a strained lat muscle.

Dempster was charged with eight earned runs in two of his first three starts with Texas, but then went 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA in his next five starts, striking out 36 in 33 innings. He wound up with 70 strikeouts in 69 innings for the Rangers, and his 9.1 strikeouts per nine innings with Texas was the highest ratio of his career.

Over his career against Boston's AL East opponents, Dempster is 4-8 in 17 starts with a 4.91 ERA (58 earned runs over 106 1/3 innings). He has been particularly poor against the Yankees. In five starts against them, he is 0-4 with a 7.62 ERA, surrendering eight homers and walking 18 over 28 1/3 innings.

Against teams with a winning percentage of .500 or better over his career, Dempster is 51-72 (.415) with a 4.65 ERA. Faciing sub-.500 teams, he is 73-52 (.584) with a 4.01 ERA.