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Dempster Deal Poorly Sets Free Agent Market

The Cubs will re-sign Ryan Dempster to a four-year, $52 million contract today.

The deal sets the free agent pitcher’s market, as Dempster gets a deal akin to Carlos Silva’s four-year, $48M contract last season. It tells most of us that baseball won’t quite suffer from the same financial hardship that is plaguing the nation; closer to home, it might shut the door on prized free agent names for the Phillies.

Now that Dempster is set, AJ Burnett — sought by the Yankees — should get at least $55 million over four years, and probably more. Derek Lowe will drop in for $12 million per year. Even Brad Penny, Braden Looper and other third-tier guys should get close to $10 million in 2009.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies were looking for pitching, and though they could strike a deal for a prized free-agent starter, it’s looking very bleak. Consider Jamie Moyer should get about $7 million in 2009, and you’re not looking at a top-flight name. Moreover, consider a hitter like Milton Bradley, who may get that four year deal he seeks. If Dempster can get it, why not him?

Meanwhile, the Phils “set parameters” for a Pat Burrell contract. Look for Burrell to seek a better deal, and maybe get it now.

The way the market has opened, the Phils spending spree of 2008 may resemble the 2007 experience: a couple names late in December and a low-risk, high-reward trade.

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