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What Dempster's decision means for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  February 16, 2014 03:27 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. Ryan Dempster will be missed by his teammates. But let's look at the pragmatic consequences of his decision to leave the team:

John Farrell said there was no longer any competition for the rotation. The Red Sox will go with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy and Felix Doubront. It may not be in that order necessarily, but they're the starters.

Dempster would have been competing with Doubront for a spot.

Brandon Workman is now the primary depth starter with Allen Webster, Rubby de La Rosa, Drake Britton, Anthony Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Henry Owens following.

"We've got a very good young group of, we feel, strong prospects," manager John Farrell said. "While they're long on talent, they're short on experience. But we feel confident with the talent that's here."

Dempster leaving, realistically, opens a spot in the bullpen. That could be good news for any one of a number of people including De La Rosa, Britton, Rich Hill, Jose Mijares, Alex Wilson and Dalier Hinojosa.

Once Dempster goes on the restricted list and is taken off the roster, the Sox will have $13.25 million to use they didn't have before. They were up against the $189 luxury tax threshold with Dempster and now have ample wiggle room.

General manager Ben Cherington passed on this discussion today, saying the focus should be on Dempster. But the Red Sox suddenly have enough money to entertain assorted options. They could:

1. Hold onto the surplus in case a mid-season trade is needed.

2. Sign Stephen Drew.

3. Sign a veteran starter for depth, somebody like Chris Capuano.

There are no signs that the Sox will pursue a free-agent starter like Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. They are comfortable with their rotation.

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