When the Red Sox wrapped up the 2015 season, it was their second straight last-place finish, and they desperately needed an ace at the top of their rotation.
Newly hired President of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski gave David Price a record $217 million contract. Just four months earlier the new Boston executive had traded Price away from the Detroit Tigers to the Toronto Blue Jays. It was one of his last acts before being fired by Tiger’s owner Mike Illitch.
I was immediately concerned Price would not be a good fit for the New England market. He had a tumultuous history with the Red Sox, and even more so with the media. It appeared that by making this signing, Dombrowski did not even understand the volatility of this fan base. Or at least took it far too lightly.
In 2016, Price’s first year in Boston was largely uneventful. He got off to a rough start but settled into a groove as the team finished the year in first place.
Price was shelled by the Cleveland Indians in his lone playoff start in the ALDS that October. He had to be removed from the game in the 4th inning after giving up five runs. Mike Napoli even managed to steal second base straight up to put an exclamation point on his poor performance.
As soon as David Ortiz‘ retirement became official, Price began taking jabs at Red Sox fans on Twitter during the offseason. As was well as further disparaging remarks towards them in an interview with the Boston Globe just before the start of spring training.
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The former Cy Young winner began 2017 on the injured list due to inflammation in his left elbow. As he fought back from injury to make his first start of the season on May 29th, he also began fighting with the Red Sox beat writers.
Price’s struggles with the media came to a head in early June when he informed them he would no longer give interviews except on days he was scheduled to pitch. This lead to a highly publicized screaming match with then NBC Sports writer Evan Drellich just outside of the Red Sox clubhouse.
His war on the media continued three weeks later in what became perhaps the most controversial incident of his career. This took place on a charter plane when Price ambushed NESN color analyst Dennis Eckersley over a one-word comment he made about the pitching line from Eduardo Rodriguez‘ rehab start earlier that evening. That comment? “Yuck.”
It quickly became a national story, one in which Price further alienated himself from Boston fans. Another wave of the controversy took place in late July as more details were made public. The angry Red Sox ace was scheduled to make his next start against the Kansas City Royals, which was to begin once the Sox arrived back at Fenway to begin a homestand. Instead, he went on the injured list rather than face the music.
The next season, Price’s first start against the Yankees came in April. He got hammered for four runs in the very first inning, and then took himself out of the game due to apparent numbness in his throwing hand.
His next scheduled start against the Bronx Bombers was set for early May, but Price had himself scratched from the start the day before, again due to hand numbness. Red Sox officials sent him back to Boston for a battery of tests. Nothing was found except a mild case of “carpal tunnel.”
Noticing a pattern? Price finally did have to face the music against the Yankees during a July 1st start in the Bronx. In front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN, he gave up eight runs in only 3.1 innings, five of which were home runs.
There was also no escaping his playoff start in Game Two of the ALDS against the Yankees that following October. Predictably, he lasted only 1.2 innings after giving up three runs.
In 2019, Price skipped out of two more starts against the Yankees just hours before he was scheduled to make them. During his entire tenure with the Red Sox, he has not done this against any other ball club.
In July of last season, WEEI posted an aggregated article that focused on a small snippet of Dennis Eckersley’s interview with Chad Finn of the Boston Globe. The interview virtually covered his entire career.
The part which WEEI focused on pertained to comments where Eckersley stated he had no intention of ever talking to Price.
In a hilariously botched attempt to force his own narrative, Price called out Eckersley in an impromptu press conference he assembled with the beat writers in the Red Sox clubhouse and preceded to slander the NESN Broadcaster with several lies.
Price claimed that none of Eckersley’s former teammates spoke about him in his MLB Presents special. When in fact there were exactly ten. Red Sox beat writers held the Boston pitcher accountable by setting the record straight.
Earlier this offseason, the Red Sox front office has made statements expressing their desire to keep Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez with the team long term. Those statements, of course, are mostly political and essentially a tiny white lie, as they have actively shopped Betts in trade talks with other teams.
He makes the list as my number one least favorite Red Sox player of this decade. And probably ever.