We haven't looked at any of the pitcher projections yet, so we might as well start with the longest tenured starter on the squad. Last year, Dempster looked utterly awful in the first month of the season. He had some terrible BABIP and HR luck but was generally being hit hard. However, after his first 6-8 starts or so he settled down and pitched right in line with his projections going into the season. It wasn't enough to undo the awful first month but it's a glimmer of hope going forward. By fWAR he was worth 2.8 WAR, worth a little less than what he was paid. Of course, fWAR kind of stinks since FIP is more of a predictive stat rather than a descriptive one. rWAR only had his season at 0.9 WAR.
Dempster is on the last year of his contract after exercising his player option last October and hinted that he'd love to stay around. As far as I remember there has been utter silence on this topic from the Hall of Justice, but the Superfriends may be able to leverage his desire to stick around into a discount. Of course, a large portion of the reason he wants to stick around could be his daughter's health, and if so that would be kind of a dick move for Thoyer to use that against him.
What can we expect from next year? Here are Ryan Dempster's numbers from various projection systems.
The FIP values are computed based only on BB, HBP, SO, and HR, and is rescaled to the league ERA based on the past two seasons. Last year was an incredibly pitcher-friendly year in the NL, and it will be interesting to see if that continues this season. Since only half the systems provided HBP data I just used the average of the systems that did provide that data. I'm also being sloppy and simply averaging numbers that have different denominators, but eh.
Based on this run environment, Dempster will provide 23.04 Runs Above Replacement, or 2.36 WAR. Dempster will be paid $14m next season (as well as $3m in deferred money that allowed the Cubs to sign the one-armed bandit, Xavier Nady. Let us never speak of this again). Given an estimate of $5m / win, the Cubs are overpaying Dempster by just over two million dollars. Of course, the Cubs made up that amount in spades earlier in the contract. That's just the way back-loading works.