David Price was hated in Boston in 2016 and 2017. Then, 2018 rolled by and Price was a renowned hero after his clutch postseason performance. However, the same issues that plagued Price in his forgetful 2017 leaked into his 2019 season.
Price’s quarrels with Dennis Eckersley have been well documented, and frankly I don’t understand why they have to keep bringing it up. Price notably started the conflict between them in 2017.
Price only pitched 74.2 innings in 2017 due to spending lots of time on the injured list and he also missed significant time in 2019. The lefty managed to pitch 30 more innings than 2017, but his ERA was nearly a point higher. Price ultimately didn’t have a terrible season, but pitching through a cyst in his wrist and not being consistently on the field ruined his 2019. Price had an ERA in the low 3’s at the beginning of July, then his final four, starts of 2019 ultimately skewed his stat line for the worse.
Price is making north of $30 million next year and the two years after. Unlike the Sale and Eovaldi contracts, Price has had 4 years to prove himself.
Overall, Price hasn’t been awful for the Red Sox, averaging 147 innings and a 3.84 ERA. Those numbers aren’t terrible… if you’re not getting paid $31 million a year and not a front-line starting pitcher. When Price became a free agent after the 2015 season, he was a runner-up for the Cy Young award (Dallas Keuchel won and Sonny Gray was third, oh how the tables have turned). Ultimately, the Red Sox signed Price to put up that kind of production. Price hasn’t been close to that level and he’s now probably the third starter in the rotation behind Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale.
At the end of the day, recency bias definitely is a factor when thinking about Price’s contract – after 2018, Price’s contract was pretty good, right? However, when looking at the overall picture, Price has put up maybe 1.5 good seasons with the Red Sox out of 4. For a guy who got the largest contract as a starting pitcher (which Gerrit Cole is about to shatter), Price should be producing far more than he currently is.
This contract is definitely Dombrowski’s worst move and all Bloom can do is try to find a trade partner. Even dumping him to another team seems unlikely given Price’s less than stellar 2019 performance.