I’m starting to come around to the idea that Price can still be a valuable part of this rotation for a few more years. I was initially skeptical that he would hold up that long but Price has become a different pitcher since he came to Boston.
This is no longer an overpowering hurler who can blow batters away with a 95-96 mph fastball. Price sits at about 93 mph with his four-seam fastball. He can’t throw it by everyone anymore so he’s been forced to adapt. Price paints the corners to rack up called strikes with that fastball, which he now throws a career-low 47.2 percent of the time. He’s increased the usage of his cutter, relying on the extra movement to compensate for the dip in velocity. Those pitches set up his changeup, which is his best pitch when he has it working for him.
Price has reinvented himself for this stage of his career. This version seems capable of holding up over the course of his remaining contract. I wouldn’t have expected that when he signed with the Red Sox but it now seems realistic.
If Price does opt out then it will free up a large chunk of payroll space that can be allocated toward another free agent or saved to lock up their young core. Even if Price continues to perform, there may be greater priorities for the Red Sox to spend that money on. One the other hand, Price is proving that he can be a valuable asset to this team. If he does decide to stay – if he sends a strong message that he wants to be here – I won’t be disappointed.