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Red Sox look for innings in Dempster
The Boston Red Sox have the reliable starter they sought in Ryan Dempster.
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," he said Wednesday at a news conference after his $26.5 million, two-year deal was finalized. "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."
Dempster gets $13.25 million a year and would earn an additional $250,000 each season for pitching 190 innings.
"We went into this offseason 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."
The 35-year-old right-hander adds experience to a rotation that underachieved this year as the Red Sox went 69-93 and finished last in the AL East in their only season under manager Bobby Valentine. He 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 reached the major leagues in 1998 with the Florida Marlins and has a 124-124 record with a 4.33 ERA.
He went 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA this year. After starting 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in his ninth season with the Chicago Cubs, he was traded to the Texas Rangers and went 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA. That was his first stint in the American League.
"It's going to be a little bit different not being able to hit," he joked. "They're going to miss my bat in the lineup, but we'll get through that."
Angels trade Morales to Seattle for Vargas
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.
Houston gets pitcher John Ely from Dodgers
The Astros have traded minor league left-hander Rob Rasmussen to the Los Angeles for right-hander John Ely.
The 26-year-old Ely spent most of last season with Triple-A Albuquerque, where he went 14-7 with a 3.20 ERA in 27 starts. He is 4-13 with a 5.70 ERA in 19 big league starts and six relief appearances with the Dodgers during the last three seasons.
Rasmussen was a combined 8-11 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 starts and one relief appearance for Class A Jupiter and Double-A Corpus Christi last season. The 23-year-old left-hander was acquired by Houston from Miami in July's Carlos Lee trade.
LHP Francis completes $1.5M deal with Rockies
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. He 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.
Mickelson won't be involved with Padres ownership
Phil Mickelson's spokesman says the pro golfer will not be involved in ownership of the San Diego Padres.
Spokesman T.R. Reinman says Mickelson told friends of his decision before a meeting at Torrey Pines Golf Course on Tuesday night to discuss renovation of the North Course.
Reinman says Mickelson feels the O'Malley and Seidler families, which bought the Padres last summer, along with local businessman Ron Fowler, have the depth of commitment the city needs. Reinman says Mickelson feels he can't match that level of commitment.
Sarah Farnsworth, the Padres' vice president of public affairs, confirms that Mickelson will not be part of the ownership group.
Mickelson said in mid-October that it looked promising that he'd be involved.