Red Sox: Will Dallas Keuchel signing set the value for David Price?
By Rick McNair
David Price is a hot topic for the Boston Red Sox as they attempt to move his contract. Will the signing of Dallas Keuchel provide a trading footprint?
The usual attachment with investing fishing that I will paraphrase is past returns do not guarantee future returns. The same certainly applies to baseball contracts that have become both fiscally and performance burdensome. The Red Sox are in the process of seeking out options for disengagement from David Price and the remaining three years an $96 million of his original seven-year deal.
Dallas Keuchel signed with the White Sox for three-years and $55.5 million with the potential for an additional one-year tacked on. Using that three years as a backward step shows the similarity between Price – now 34-years-old – and Keuchel who is 32-years-old. From 2017-19, Price had a cumulative 7.8 bWAR and Keuchel an 8.9 bWAR.
Both lefties have missed their turn in that three-year time frame, but Keuchel was a late signing in 2019 and made just 19 starts for the Braves. Price is now recovering from a wrist operation that cost him time in the rotation in 2019. Both are similar in style and performance, but not salary.
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Keuchel has an $18.5 million AAV which is significantly less than Price’s $32 million AAV. The Keuchel contract is probably the most noteworthy for determining market value for Price if he was a free agent or Boston explores a trade. Price’s contract cries out for additional compensation either in talent or money.
The money would be in the very catchy tune of $40 million to create a balance when compared to Keuchel. The good news is the luxury tax obligation to Price would be diminished roughly 40% giving the Red Sox a bit more flexibility. To get the full load off the books would need value being shipped elsewhere in either prospects or a ready to rock position player/pitcher. Just who?
Prospects are always the most difficult to value simply because the evaluation is based on minor league statistics. Bobby Dalbec could be the next Lars Anderson or Jeff Bagwell. The risk is there, especially with multiple prospects.
Putting on the GM hat for another team may be an exercise in futility, but it is also one way of at least attempting to diminish the ingrained bias of being a Red Sox fan. Who would I ask for? A classic hot stove league fun or frivolous exercise.
As the opposing GM and picking through the Red Sox roster I know that certain players mentioned would cause an outburst of hilarity from my counterpart. Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts are about as untouchable as players can get unless you are formulating a package for Mike Trout. The high-end would be Andrew Benintendi who has yet – and may never – reach the plateau we all expect. Asking and getting are certainly mutually exclusive at times. But ask I would.
The second option – and I am focusing on position players – is Michael Chavis. Chavis burst on the scene with Wily Mo Pena‘s power, but the downside is clear. Without injury in 2019 Chavis would have led the team in whiffs. A player who may or may not fix his stroke to be a wee bit more selective.
Deals are sometimes like waistlines during the holidays and expand. Sometimes they become threesome – in a baseball sense – as another team enters in as all work on certain needs. Expansion usually is the result of not precisely matching up. If I want Benintendi I may have to toss in a blue-chip or a quality bullpen pitcher.
What Keuchel has accomplished for me is giving a pathway on what to expect as the Red Sox delves into the Price situation. When the trading dust settles sometimes the best trades are not the ones you make.