From the moment Price signed his lucrative 7-year, $217 million deal, I was in the camp hoping he would opt out in 2018. Not because I was against adding Price. I was excited about the free agent acquisition. It wasn’t the $31 million average annual salary that bothered me either. Considering the deals other top-tier free agent starters received around the same time frame, that figure actually seemed about right.
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It was the length of the deal that concerned me. Pitchers are inherently risky long-term investments. The contract seemed destined to be an albatross by the final season, when Price is scheduled to earn $32 million at the age of 36.
The opt-out clause provided an ideal scenario. The Red Sox could add an ace starting pitcher who should meet or exceed value on the front end of the deal. If he opted out after three seasons, the Red Sox could let him walk so another team could take the risk on paying him into his mid-30’s.
It hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Price hasn’t lived up to his contract thus far. He was better than most will give him credit for in 2016 but a rocky start to his tenure in Boston soured his numbers. He missed most of last season due to injury and pushed more fans into turning against him with his public spats with the media.
By the end of the 2017 season, the concept of Price being a worthwhile investment for the full duration of his contract appeared to be a long shot.