BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox have agreed to terms with right-hander Ryan Dempster on a two-year contract worth $26.5 million, two people familiar with the negotiations said Thursday.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington would not comment on Dempster at a news conference to announce the signing of outfielder Shane Victorino. “We’re engaged with a pitcher. That’s all I can say at this point,” Cherington said, without mentioning Dempster by name.
But a few hours later the sides completed the framework of a deal, the two people familiar with the talks said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the agreement was pending a physical.
Dempster would help a rotation led by Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, promising young pitchers coming off subpar seasons. At the other end of the staff are Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront; pitchers the Red Sox hope can develop into dependable starters. John Lackey returns after missing last season due to elbow ligament-replacement surgery.
Dempster, 12-8 with a 3.38 ERA this year, gives the Red Sox a reliable pitcher who has thrown more than 200 innings for four of the past five seasons. He was 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA with the Chicago Cubs this year before being traded to Texas. He was 7-3 with a 5.03 ERA for the Rangers.
Boston hopes he will be an improvement over Josh Beckett, who was 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a deal that conceded the 2012 season while clearing $250 million in future salaries. Daisuke Matsuzaka, who arrived in Boston to international fanfare, was 1-7 with an 8.28 ERA last season while battling injuries.
Dempster, 35, has a 124-124 record and a 4.33 ERA in a 15-year big league career, most of it with the Marlins and Cubs.

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Gary DiSarcina will be introduced Friday as manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox, Boston’s top farm team.
The 45-year-old comes from the Los Angeles Angels, where he was recently promoted to special assistant to the general manager. He played shortstop for the Angels from 1989-00.
DiSarcina managed the Lowell Spinners, a Red Sox minor league affiliate, from 2007-09 and was Boston’s minor league infield coordinator in 2010.
He replaces Arnie Beyeler, who became Boston’s first base coach. The PawSox won the International League last season but lost to Reno in the Triple-A championship.