The Boston Red Sox have the reliable starter they sought, signing Canadian right-hander Ryan Dempster to a two-year contract.
He's pitched at least 200 innings in four of the past five seasons, impressive to general manager Ben Cherington but, perhaps, not so special to Dempster.
"That's your responsibility as a starting pitcher in the big leagues," the native of Gibsons, B.C., said Wednesday at a news conference where his signing was announced. "The norm used to be 300 and somehow we worked it down to like 200. Even 180 seems to suffice."
But, he said, he works hard to stay in shape "so that I can take on that workload."
The team announced the signing six days after two people familiar with the negotiations said Dempster had agreed to a $26.5 million US deal.
"We went into this off-season wanting to add a proven starter to the rotation, someone that has a history of success, reliability and someone who we thought would embrace coming to Boston and everything that comes with pitching and playing in Boston, on and off the field," Cherington said. "We think Ryan is the perfect fit for that."
Dempster, 35, adds experience to a rotation that underachieved last season when the Red Sox went 69-93 and finished last in the American League East in their only season under manager Bobby Valentine, who was fired and replaced by John Farrell.
"What happened last year is last year," Dempster said. "We don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."
Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz had disappointing years and John Lackey returns after missing the season following elbow-ligament replacement surgery. Left-hander Felix Doubront was in the rotation for most of the season.
Dempster went 12-8 with a 3.38 earned-run average this year. He was 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in his ninth season with the Chicago Cubs. He was traded to the Texas Rangers where he went 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA. That was his first taste of pitching in the American League, full time.
"It's going to be a little bit different not being able to hit, obviously" with a designated hitter in the American League, he joked. "They're going to miss my bat in the lineup, but we'll get through that."
Dempster, who reached the majors in 1998 with the Florida Marlins, has a career 124-124 mark with a 4.33 ERA.
Mariners pick up Kendy Morales
The Los Angeles Angels have traded power hitter Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas.
The 29-year-old Morales became expendable after the Angels agreed to a deal last week with free agent slugger Josh Hamilton. The Angels had been looking for a pitcher after losing Zack Greinke and Dan Haren to free agency and trading Ervin Santana.
Morales hit .273 with 22 home runs and 73 RBIs last season. He missed the entire 2011 season after breaking his leg early in 2010 while celebrating a game-ending grand slam against the Mariners.
Vargas led Seattle in wins last season, going 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA. The 29-year-old is 36-42 with a 4.09 ERA in four years with the Mariners.
Morales and Vargas each are eligible salary arbitration and can become free agents after next season.
The trade was announced Wednesday.
The Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki have finalized a $13 million, two-year contract that keeps the 10-time All-Star in the Bronx.
The 39-year-old, who will make $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons, was obtained in a trade with Seattle on July 23, revived his career and quickly became a fan favourite.
His batting average jumped from .261 with the Mariners to .322 with the Yankees, with five homers, 27 RBIs and 14 steals.
Jeff Francis staying with Rockies
Canadian Jeff Francis completed a $1.5 million, one-year contract to remain with the Colorado Rockies, a deal that allows the 31-year-old left-hander to double his income if he pitches 210 innings.
Francis is 67-73 with a 4.86 ERA in 205 starts and one relief appearance during eight major league seasons — seven with Colorado and one with Kansas City. The North Delta, B.C. native was 6-7 with a 5.58 ERA in 24 big league starts and 113 innings this year after he spent the first two months of the season with Cincinnati's Triple-A farm team at Louisville.
A first-round draft pick in 2002, when he was selected ninth overall, Francis missed the 2009 season following shoulder surgery. He agreed to the deal two weeks ago during the winter meetings, and it was finalized Wednesday.
Francis would earn bonuses of $100,000 for 140 innings, $125,000 for 150, $150,000 for 160, $175,000 for 170, $200,000 for 180, $225,000 for 190, $250,000 for 200 and $275,000 for 210.