Ryan Dempster won’t pitch next season

Ryan Dempster won’t be around to help the Red Sox defend their World Series championship next season. Releasing a statement to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Dempster announced his decision to take (at least) a one-year sabbatical from baseball to work on his health and spend time with his family:

“I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time. The time is right. I’m not saying retirement but I definitely won’t be playing this season.”

Pay Per Head Services noticed that the Red Sox confirmed Rosenthal’s news, noting Dempster would not close the door on a return in 2015:

“Dempster adds that he’s only looking at 2014 season. He may keep the door open, but doesn’t see that changing right now.”

The Red Sox will not be forced to pay his 2014 salary because they will place him on the restricted list, a provision of the MLB collective bargaining agreement which allows teams to essentially cut ties with a player who fails to report in a timely fashion.

Dempster’s decision to sit out next season certainly comes as a surprise. He was due a $13.25 million salary and he still has some gas left in the tank at age 36.

The Red Sox have four guaranteed spots locked into their starting rotation with Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy.

Ryan Dempster went 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 32 appearances (29 starts) last season.

Health will be the ultimate factor in deciding whether The Red Sox will miss Dempster. Among the top four in the starting rotation, only Jon Lester doesn’t have a long-term injury history.

If Dempster doesn’t pitch again, he will finish his career with a 132-133 record with a 4.35 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Over his 16-year career he has played with the Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Rangers and Red Sox.