CHICAGO -- Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster has exercised his $14 million player option for 2012. The Cubs were informed of his decision on Saturday.

Dempster, 34, is coming off a 10-14 season in which he did reach the 200-innings mark for the fourth straight year. However, he also posted his highest ERA in four seasons as a starter with the Cubs (4.80) and had one of the worst Aprils, logging a 1-3 record and a 9.58 ERA in six starts.

"I'm excited," Dempster said on Saturday. "I had a chance to talk to Theo [Epstein, president of baseball operations]. I'm excited for the Cubs organization and not just for myself personally. They want to be a place where they're not trying to just win the World Series. They want a chance to be contenders every single year. I think that's awesome."

Dempster was impressed by Epstein, who left the Red Sox after nine years as the general manager to take over the Cubs' baseball operations.

"He's had some success and that gives you a lot of confidence," Dempster said. "As players we'll go out there every year and try to do the best we can. I think they're going to hold us to the highest standard. That's important that we live up to that."

The right-hander was selected as the Cubs' Opening Day starter, and now joins Matt Garza, Randy Wells and possibly Carlos Zambrano. Dempster will be back in Chicago on Thursday to host an event at The Palm Restaurant for his foundation. He definitely wasn't happy with the 2011 season.

"I just want to go out and do better," he said.