The Detroit Tigers are on the verge of becoming sellers at the trade deadline, which has put David Price at the forefront of the rumor mill. Even if Detroit were to entertain offers for their ace, the Boston Red Sox aren’t in the market for a rental, but that doesn’t mean they won’t have interest when he hits the free agent market this winter.
But would Price have interest in coming to Boston? There is reason to doubt that he would given his hostile history with the Red Sox, which has included a few verbal spats with David Ortiz. Despite some sour memories of his past interactions with the franchise, Price says he wouldn’t rule out a move to Boston.
"“I won’t rule out anybody,” price told WEEI.com’s John Tomase over the weekend. “If you can prove to me that you want me for the player that I am and the person that I am, I’ve got to respect that. If you have a formula to win and can do it over a sustained period of time, who doesn’t want to win? That’s why you play the game. It’s not about the money. It’s about being able to win now and in the years in the future. That’s what I want to do. I want to be part of something special. That’s what I’m looking for.”"
Price holds no resentment toward the Red Sox organization and believes that any issues he has had with them can be left in the past. While he went on to describe that he has been irritated by some of the messages he’s received from Red Sox fans on social media, those same fans would quickly change their tune if he were dominating at the top of Boston’s rotation.
The bigger hurdle for bringing Price to Boston as a free agency may be the team’s reluctance to sign pitchers over 30 years old.
"“If you’re not going to sign a pitcher that’s 30, so be it,” said Price. “I’ll cross you off my list.“I don’t care what anyone says [about 30]. I continue to get better. I’ve never been as good as I am right now. I know a couple of ways that I can and will get better. I’m loving what I’m doing right now and the direction where I’m heading pitching-wise.”"
Price has once again been one of the league’s best pitchers, posting a 9-3 record with a 2.31 ERA that ranks 3rd in the league. He is also 4th in innings (140.0), strikeouts (134) and pitching WAR (3.7) through 20 starts this season. He’ll earn a hefty salary when he hits the free agent market, but would Boston be willing to pay up for his services?
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The common comparison would be Jon Lester, the lefty the Red Sox let get away over concerns about giving a massive long-term deal to a pitcher on the wrong side of 30. While it’s fair to wonder if the Red Sox ownership would pony up the dough for Price when they weren’t willing to do the same for a beloved World Series hero like Lester, it’s also fair to point out there are some significant differences between the two.
For one thing, Lester is over a year older than Price, who won’t celebrate his 30th birthday until August 26. Lester turned 31 in January, which means he’ll have pitched his entire first season of his new deal at that age. Price won’t turn 31 until near the end of the first year of his next contract.
While Red Sox fans won’t want to admit it, Price also has the better track record. The former Cy Young winner has also finished runner-up for the award one other time and has placed in the top-6 in the league three times. Lester has never finished higher than fourth in the voting.
Most of their key career stats also favor Price.
Combine that with Boston’s eagerness to sign an ace after this year’s decision to go without one blew up in their faces and it’s easy to see how they could be convinced to pay the price (expect to hear horrible puns like that all winter once Price is on the market).
This doesn’t necessarily mean that Boston will be willing to break the bank to sign Price, but it goes to show why it would be understandable if they are willing to push harder for him than they did for Lester.
Expect Boston to show heavy interest in Price this winter. Given the comments Price has made this week, expect him to listen with an open mind.
Now if we can just get Ortiz on board with welcoming his rival as a new teammate, we might have our next ace for the rotation.