Prior to this season, the knock on Ryan Dempster has been his control. For his career, he’s handed out 707 free passes in 1425 innings. That’s 4.47 walks per nine innings, which is pretty much unacceptable.
But his 2008 performance has shown exactly why walk totals are extremely important. By cutting down to 3.4 walks per nine, Dempster produced a 2.96 ERA in 206 2/3 innings. And now, he’s reportedly cashing in with a deal totaling $52MM over four years.
Although he’s on the wrong side of 30, I think that this will be one of the saner deals this off season. Unless he forgets how to throw a strike, Dempster will be a pretty good bet of keeping his ERA below 4 for close to 200 innings in 2009, which is incredibly valuable and well worth $13MM a season and then some. And based on his strikeout rate last year, he’s capable of being a quality pitcher for most, if not all, of the four year deal.
So if these numbers are accurate, it looks like the Cubs got themselves a steal.
And no, I did not mean to rhyme.