Right-hander Ryan Dempster is one of the top veteran pitchers on the market. (David Banks / Getty Images )
The Angels have expressed interest in free-agent right-hander Ryan Dempster, who could provide much-needed rotation depth at a relatively low cost. Talks between Dempster’s agent and the team were confirmed by a person familiar with negotiations but not authorized to speak publicly about them.
Dempster, 35, has a 124-124 career record and 4.33 earned-run average in 15 big league seasons, 8 1/2 of them with the Chicago Cubs. He went 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA for Chicago last season before a late-July trade to Texas, where he went 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA, 70 strikeouts and 25 walks in 12 starts for the Rangers.
Though the average velocity of his fastball dipped to 89.7 mph last season, Dempster, who also throws a slider, cut-fastball and split-fingered fastball, had a 43.5% ground-ball rate in 173 innings.
Dempster, who is also reportedly being pursued by the Milwaukee Brewers and Boston Red Sox, is thought to be seeking a three-year contract, but because of his age and late-season struggles in 2012, it’s doubtful he would get more than $20 million in such a deal.
The Angels have only two starting pitchers — Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson — under contract for 2013, and rookie right-hander Garrett Richards is under club control. They are expected to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible right-hander Jerome Williams, who will compete for a rotation spot, by Friday’s deadline.
They haven’t given up hope of retaining free-agent Zack Greinke, but if the right-hander’s price tag soars to the six-year, $150-million range, as many think it will, the Angels could drop out of the bidding for Greinke and set their sights on less-expensive starters.
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