Boston Red Sox: Why David Price is a really good deal

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Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

1) Price’s contract is actually a steal

You heard me, a steal. A big, fat, record breaking, $217 million steal. Why? Well to begin, let’s tackle some of the arguments against the contract:

"“It’s more (by 2 million dollars) than that of Clayton Kershaw and Price isn’t as good as Kershaw!”"

First of all, Kershaw wasn’t given his contract on the free agent market and instead signed an extension. One would expect this to be less, even with the Dodgers having more money than sense. Second, with inflation it probably works out about the same, if not a little more, to Kershaw. Even so, the central point is there, why is Price getting Kershaw money?

Well, because he’s worth it. The market has changed, even from last year when Max Scherzer landed a contract of $210 over 7 years (most of it back-ended over the final years of the contract and even beyond) and you could make a reasonable case that Scherzer is in many ways the better of Price. Even so, supply and demand, this year Price is the best pitcher available, by no small margin, and a plethora of clubs want his services. He’s in the same league as Kershaw and Scherzer, i.e. the top echelon of pitchers in baseball and, right or wrong, can legitimately expect to be paid like it.

And just for fun, let me throw out there that Price, in many ways, is a better fit for the Red Sox than both. Price is an AL East pitcher, a known commodity in the very market Boston competes in. He has an unbelievably stingy career ERA of 1.95 at Fenway Park, evidently the lowest he has in any park he’s ever made more than one start in. He’s the most sure choice Dombrowski could have made with John Henry’s money.

"“He will become a financial burden! A thin CC Sabathia with a Tennessee accent!”"

Just a hunch, but I doubt it. For a start, one of the best aspects of Price’s contract is his opt-out clause. It’s good for him, he gives Boston a chance and, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, and maybe he’ll be so good he could get more money on the free agency market in 3 years (though I personally doubt this.) But it’s also good for the Red Sox. Should he exercise it, then Boston gets 3 of his best years just before any expected performance degrade and all for the low-low cost of $90 million or so. How’s that sound? I don’t know any team in baseball who wouldn’t take Price at 3/$90 million. Heck I’d nearly have a whip around just to watch him pitch in my living room for that.

Ultimately, as I stated, I don’t think Price will opt out. He’s had his “wars” with David Ortiz and his rude comments from Red Sox warriors on Twitter, for sure. But he’s a professional and so is Ortiz. They both want to win, indeed none more than Papi in his final year in the game, and they’ll work together towards it. As for the fans? Not even a worry, they’ll love him. He’s Boston’s ace, he’s the face of the franchise, the show stopper, the seller of merchandise, the emoji on the Red Sox Twitter account’s profile. He is the Red Sox. No real supporter will begrudge that and even the hardened opponents will fall for him when they see him send away the best bats in the game by way of the K, inning after inning.

So he may not exercise the opt-out, but either which way Price has much to offer over 7 years (as we’ll discuss later) and even by 37, he is projected to be able to continue to compete. He’s already made adjustments. His fastball, the best around, still sits at 95 MPH but he is using his secondaries more, and has developed into a pitcher able to lean on them for similar success as when he relied almost entirely on his heat. He’s a student of the game – smart, capable and very determined. Even should his fastball drop a tick or two in the latter years of the contract, he has shown he can adapt and change his game.

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So that’s all good, but a steal? Yes a steal. If Price opts-out after three years it’s perhaps the best contract for a free agent ace in recent memory. 3 years of contract matches with the 3 years of control the Red Sox have over newly acquired elite closer Craig Kimbrel, a devastating combo. 3 years also takes us to the time when a whole crop of other big name free agent pitchers will become available, headlined by no less than Kershaw himself.

Of course, that makes it yet further unlikely Price will throw his hat into the ring. Supply up doesn’t do much for your bottom line. But, even if he doesn’t opt-out, I contend this is a steal for Boston. With the previous signings as a guide and the market being so rife with clubs seeking better/more pitching, the costs of acquiring one, let alone the best, were always going to be sky high. The longer the big war went on, the more outlandish the figure would become. Many predicted $230 million or above for Price. With the Dodgers and Giants involved, this is perhaps unsurprising.

But Dombrowski bypassed it all, he got ahead of the market and, instead of competing with the Dodgers and Giants, he decided to force Price into competing with Greinke by having a potential deal lined up waiting. This exceedingly astute move by Dombrowski put Price on the back foot and forced a decision before other big players could make an offer. Price had much to gain by waiting, particularly for Greinke to move, but the Red Sox made an offer that ticked all the right boxes and, in many ways, he was simply unable to refuse.

Better still, Price doesn’t cost a draft pick, as Greinke would. You may think this is a moot point, but it’s really not. I could slap an arbitrary figure of $30 million on the worth of Boston’s pick in the 2016 draft and many wouldn’t bat an eyelid. It’s projected to be one of the best in many years and the Red Sox take the 12th overall, unprotected but still very valuable. Lots of top pitchers will be available and could, feasibly, be ready for the show before Price’s contract expires.

All in all, you’ll struggle to find any industry insiders say that Boston overpaid. They paid what they needed to and got their man, the best man for the job.

Next: Price is a leader