Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dempster Back With The Cubs, To Be Overpaid For The Next 4 Years

Now that the Chicago Cubs have overpaid to bring back Ryan Dempster to the rotation, one would imagine that they will turn their attention to a left-handed bat, one of their top priorities this offseason. With talks regarding Jake Peavy to be less than nothing right now, one would expect that the Cubs target of the 2007 offseason Brian Roberts would be that bat they are looking to get. But back to Dempster.

The deal seems to be for 4 years and 52 million dollars, but the numbers are a bit confusing. Its actually a 3-year deal with a 4th year player option. That 4th year would be for 14 million if he picks it up and I would imagine that unless he has Cy Young caliber years for the next 3, and I don't, I would imagine he'll pick it. And while the deal doesn't kill the Cubs in the first year, it's still overpaying for a pitcher who in the past 5 years has had one really good season, and doesn't have a track record to be able to prove that he will be able to repeat it. Could I be wrong? Of course I could. Wouldn't be the first time. But will I? Doubtful. And what makes this deal even more mind boggling stupid is the value compared to someone like Peavy, who the Cubs could have tried harder to get. Especially if it was over who would you rather pay for the 4 seasons, 4 years of Peavy or 4 years of Dempster. For the years of 2009 to 2012, Peavy has a contract value of 63 million over those 4 years while Dempster has a contract value of 52 million. Included in that 63 million for Peavy is a buyout of his 2013 season, which is 4 million, or you can exercise the option at 22. And while 22 million sounds like a lot, you have to keep in mind that Peavy will be only 32 in 2013 or the same age as Dempster is going to be going into the first year of his new deal. Dempster will be 32 in 2009, coming off a career year that also happened to be a contract year. He set career marks in ERA, H/9 and homeruns allowed this past season. Meanwhile, in 2002, his last season as a full-time starter prior to 2008, his ERA was 5.38 and while I wouldn't say that will be where he regress' to for next season, I also don't see him as having an ERA below 3 ever again during the life of this contract. He has a career strikeout to walk ratio of 1.69 and that was helped by his 2.46 in 2008, also a career best. Meanwhile, Peavy has simply won a Cy Young in 2007, has had one season since 2003 with an ERA above 3 and a career strikeout to walk ratio of 3.08 and that was lowered by his 2.81 from 2008. Did I mention he's also 4 years younger than Ryan Dempster.

There is no questioning that Dempster had a year in 2008 that would have been Cy Young caliber any other season and he helped carry the Cubs to the 2008 postseason. But sometimes you need to look at the other options that are out there before you can say that you will bring Dempster back, which Jim Hendry made his #1 priority this offseason. With a Peavy out there and even CC Sabathia available for the highest bidder, to me, Dempster should have been option #3 as a starter for the 2009 season. And with how quickly Dempster signed, it might be a telling sign that he wasn't most teams top priorities either.

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