Boston Red Sox right-hander Ryan Dempster plans to take this season off, a decision that surprised teammates and will cost the 16-year veteran $13.25 million in salary.
Dempster said Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., that he is stepping away for physical reasons and to spend more time with his family. But he left a slight opening to play in 2015.
“I had an incredible run, a chance to play 16 years in the major leagues and be around a lot of great teammates, made a lot of good friendships, great friendships,” Dempster said one day before the first formal spring training workout for pitchers and catchers. “I’m totally comfortable with it. I’m at peace with my decision.”
Dempster, whose contract expires after this season, finished his only year with the Red Sox with an 8-9 record and a 4.57 ERA and didn’t get a start during their postseason run to a World Series title. . . .
The Red Sox signed reliever Francisco Cordero to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp.
Cordero has been a closer for most of his career but didn’t pitch last year after struggling in 2012. In 14 seasons with six teams, he is 47-53 with a 3.38 ERA and 329 saves.
● PHILLIES: Right-hander A.J. Burnett and Philadelphia completed a contract that guarantees the pitcher $15 million for 2014 and $22.5 million over two seasons.
Under the deal, Burnett would make $33.5 million over two seasons if he makes 30 starts or more in both years.
The 37-year-old Burnett, who pitched for Pittsburgh for the past two seasons, chose the Phillies over the Pirates, he said, because of the proximity of the team to his home in Monkton, Md. Burnett said the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals showed little interest.
● BRAVES: All-star closer Craig Kimbrel and Atlanta avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to a four-year, $42 million contract.
Kimbrel gets a $1 million signing bonus under the deal and salaries of $7 million this year, $9 million in 2015, $11 million in 2016 and $13 million in 2017. The Braves have a $13 million option for 2018 with a $1 million buyout.
Kimbrel saved 50 games with a 1.21 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 67 innings last year.
● ORIOLES: Manny Machado reported to camp in Sarasota, Fla., and went to work. Still, he’s not making any promises about being ready for opening day.
Four months after having left knee surgery, the all-star third baseman took batting practice and fielded grounders.
“I’m going to try to play as many games as I can. If I miss the first week or two weeks or whatever it may be, once I get going, I’m not going to stop,” Machado said. “I’m going to keep going and play.”
Machado injured his knee Sept. 24 running the bases at Tampa Bay. He has changed the way he runs to avoid future injuries, but for now, he’s still limited in what he can do. He’ll have another medical examination in about a month. If he’s allowed to, he’ll then be able to play in games.
Manager Buck Showalter estimates Machado will need about two weeks of exhibition games before he’s ready to play.