If the Boston Red Sox bring in free agent ace David Price, it may leave a bad taste in DH David Ortiz‘s mouth or it may be the best retirement present ever.
A tale of two Davids could not be more complex a plot twist, if the Boston Red Sox sign David Price. The lefty free agent had a very public dispute with David Ortiz, the undisputed king of the baseball franchise, a few years ago. Now, after Ortiz announced that he will retire after the 2016 season, undoubtedly starting the celebration plans for his farewell tour everywhere a la Derek Jeter, Price is poised to crash the party with the media focussing on him, instead.
Will it be a warm welcome or a disappointing spat before the other man’s departure?
Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe doesn’t see it to be a problem. In his revisiting of the Price vs. Ortiz issue, Abraham believes that the two Davids will co-exist out of necessity: one wants a big load of cash and the other wants to be a winner on his way out:
"Does Price’s sour history with the Sox matter? Not really. Ortiz will retire after the season and he knows better than anybody that the Sox need an ace. Whatever reservations Price may have will be buried under piles of cash. John Lackey, who hated Boston and Fenway Park as a member of the Los Angeles Angels, signed with the Red Sox before the 2010 season because they guaranteed him $82.5 million. – Peter Abraham, The Boston Globe"
A payday of over $200 million would be a start in the right direction, at least for Price, for the feud to be officially over. And, it’s not like the Red Sox want to make a trade for an ace, either. Like Abraham says, “Trade for an ace? The Sox cannot get an established No. 1 starter without giving up Xander Bogaerts or Mookie Betts. That’s not going to happen. Price is who the Red Sox need. You watch, he’ll be hugging Ortiz like they’re family.”
Oct 4, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) tosses his bat at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
That very well might happen, but it will come down to Ortiz. The price for Price will put him well above Ortiz’s $16 million that he stands to make next season. The 20 years that Ortiz has spent in the league and the two World Series MVP awards will overshadow anything Price has done in his career; however, the media attention that the pitcher will garner from being the ‘saviour’ of the Red Sox starting rotation will be a distracting focal point from Ortiz riding into the sunset.
Think of it: every ballpark that Ortiz will visit will make an offering to arguably the greatest designated hitter of all time, but with only a partial group of reporters while others from the local area will also be at Price’s locker and asking him how he feels the pitching staff is doing. How will Big Papi deal with that? It’s not like Jeter had to put up with it; Jeter also didn’t have a pitcher like Price joining the team in the same year as his retirement, let alone a player whom he had troubles with in the past.
Just ask the Toronto Blue Jays, who had Price for the second half of the season. With the team breaking through their 22-year playoff drought and Josh Donaldson‘s American League MVP performance, the attention from the Canadian media was divided with Price and how he may or may not re-sign with the Blue Jays, even before the playoffs started.
Yet, let’s not sell Ortiz short of character, especially since he has put the Red Sox and the city of Boston itself on his back for many years. Ortiz must know that the Red Sox become a contender for the playoffs if they sign Price. Whether Price’s success would carry over throughout the postseason is another story, but not for now. The Red Sox were dead last, yet again, in the American League East division. Ortiz likely doesn’t want to pass the torch to the next generation with his beloved club in the tank. Bygones be in the past and celebration is in the future, and the farther that the Red Sox make it through next year the bigger the party for Ortiz, even if that means making nice with Price.