Never Say Never
In the world of closers, Steven Wright is no Tim Wakefield and Wakefield is no Hoyt Wilhelm. Wright has never closed and is potentially far more valuable in the rotation or as a long reliever. The questions about Wright’s serviceability will be answered in 2018 – has he recovered from knee surgery?
In 2016, Wright was simply a spectacular pitcher before being injured. An All-Star and a strong contender for the Cy Young Award who punched his time clock with a 13-6 record, 3.38 ERA, 3.3 BB/9, and four complete games in 24 starts. Wright is simply far more valuable as a starter.
Do you pay $32 Million to have a closer? The Red Sox may end up doing that with David Price if it is necessary to recoup some return on his $217 Million contract. Can Price close? Just ask the 2008 Red Sox who saw Price smoke ‘em in the playoffs. Last season Price was relegated to the bullpen vis the injury express. What happened?
The Price of the playoffs was not the Price of other playoffs sans 2008 – he looked dominant. In Price’s two games – a very small sample for sure – he allowed five hits, no runs, and stuck out six in his 6.2 innings. But the real story is Price is supposed to be your ace and the last I saw of the job description for an ace it was not being a closer.
Wright and Price are far more valuable in their roles as starters, but necessity and performance can make dramatic shifts in that. With Price, it would relegate his contract to Barry Zito status no matter how successful his bullpen performance is.