Ryan Dempster to sit out 2014 season, forfeit $13.25 million salary

Citing neck issues that have made it more and more difficult to prepare with each passing season, Boston Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster has announced he will not pitch during the 2014 season. Dempster made the announcement prior to Boston's opening workout on Sunday morning, and seemed resigned to the fact that his body is aging and the grind of a full season may be too much to handle.

Dempster signed a two-year, $26.5 million deal in December 2012 and then battled his way to a 8-9 season with a 4.57 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and 157 strikeouts in 171 1/3 innings. He did not make an appearance during their postseason run.

Though this is not an official retirement, by stepping aside for the upcoming season and allowing the Red Sox to place him on the restricted list, Dempster will forfeit the $13.25 million owed to him this season. That's a big deal to most, but at this point in Dempster's life it's of little concern for him.

It's rare to hear that type of honesty from an athlete when it comes to money.

Of course, Dempster's decision ultimately means the Red Sox have extra money to spend and some potential choice free agents to choose from as camp opens.

The starting rotation is seemingly set with Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Jake Peavy, and Felix Doubront holding down the top five spots. But there's always reason for concern with Buchholz, Lackey and Peavy and their ability to stay healthy for a full season. Assuming GM Ben Cherington shares that concern, it could open the door to negotiations with Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana if the Red Sox are willing to forfeit a draft pick in return for their signature.

Over the weekend Red Sox players were holding out hope that unsigned free agent Stephen Drew would return to the team. That remains unlikely, however, as Drew's agent Scott Boras is currently seeking a multi-year deal while the Red Sox are only willing to offer one year.

It's also possible Boston sits on the money and waits for a trade opportunity to open up, but one way or another you know they'll find a reason to spend it.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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