10:13 p.m. EST update: According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, negotiations between the Cubs and Ryan Dempster are “not happening” and a reunion is “implausible.”
9:10 p.m. EST update: ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine says the Cubs and Dempster are discussing the parameters of a deal. Dempster spent 8 1/2 seasons with the Cubs before being traded to the Rangers in July.
Holding out for a three-year contract, Ryan Dempster turned down a two-year, $26 million deal from the Royals, according to the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton.
Dempster asked the Royals to go to three years, but that appears to be a deal breaker for Kansas City.
Besides Kansas City, Boston and Milwaukee appear to be the prime suitors for Dempster. The Red Sox have already handed out a pair of three-year, $39 million contracts to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, so what’s one more?
The Angels were also interested in Dempster, but they’ve backed away now, says CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
Dempster went 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for the Cubs and 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last season. While the latter mark doesn’t speak well of his ability to pitch in the AL, he did have a 70/25 K/BB ratio in 69 innings with Texas.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.