Boston Red Sox have impossible task of trading David Price
The Boston Red Sox are actively attempting to ship David Price out of town, but his market is limited and presents a ton of challenges.
It’s no secret that trading David Price is the Red Sox number one priority this winter. He is owed a staggering $96 million for the next three seasons, and the front office has said they will eat as much as $12 million per season.
Not only is Boston willing to eat money, they don’t even care if he is traded to a division rival. The Toronto Blue Jays were previously engaged in trade talks with the Red Sox, but ultimately signed free agent Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four year deal worth $80 million.
Red Sox officials stated multiple times after the 2019 season ended that getting below the $208 million luxury tax threshold was “a goal but not a mandate.” However, given the fact that the team literally was not connected to any top free agent players this winter prior to their signings elsewhere, it kind of looks like getting below the threshold was definitely a mandate doesn’t it?
The lack of action has not been limited to just this winter. Last offseason, much of the Fenway Faithful was clamoring for more bullpen help since the team let both Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly walk without replacing them. Recently fired President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, elected to simply lean on internal options.
During the month of July when a Wild Card berth was still within reach, the Red Sox stood pat again and did not add any reinforcements to the bullpen at the trade deadline. Or to any other part of the team for that matter.
Now for the second straight winter there is a lot of frustration and anxiety on the part of Red Sox fans over the direction of the team. They have not added any impact players, and have continued to lose several key players. Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Brock Holt and Matt Barnes likely won’t be returning. Rick Porcello has already signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the New York Mets.
As we close in on only six weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training, it’s pretty clear the intentions of the Boston front office is still to try and sell off some major pieces.
There is still enough time for a trade market for both Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr to develop. It’s more a matter of whether Boston would be willing to accept a smaller trade package in order to shed the salary.
With Price, it simply comes down to leverage. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, will be 35 years old, and is recovering from a wrist injury that required surgery last September. Not to mention some off the field baggage tied to past controversies.
There just isn’t much incentive for a team to take on Price’s massive contract with all of those risk factors. Especially due to the fact most teams looking for pitching upgrades are in smaller markets with lower budgets.
If the Red Sox want to turn the tables on any future buyers to regain their own leverage, they could gamble by holding onto Price until April or May in the hope that he gets off to a hot start.
A bounce back season for the Boston lefty isn’t too far outside of the realm of possibility. If the league reverts back to using normal baseballs instead of the insanely juiced balls that were used in 2019, a lot of pitchers will be able to once again resume pitching to contact. So many routine fly balls last year kept carrying and carrying until they went over the fence.
How many times did we hear broadcasters say, “Gee… That did not look like a home run coming off the bat!”
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As recently as 2018, Price pitched to a respectable 3.58 ERA and finally exorcised his postseason demons by pitching two gems against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series. Steve Pearce narrowly edged him out for MVP of the series.
March through May tends to be Tommy John season for MLB as well. Multiple teams often lose a key arm in their rotation during this time period, and may possibly need to seek out an emergency replacement.
Teams such as the San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels, and Chicago White Sox are starting to feel the pressure from their respective fan bases and ownership groups to finally get their teams into the playoffs. If any of them are feeling under-gunned, a call could be placed to the Red Sox.
Trades during April and May are not typically common across MLB. The most recent Boston trade this early in the season that comes to mind is when Kevin Youkilis was traded to the White Sox to make room for Will Middlebrooks to take over as the every day third baseman. However, newly hired CBO Chaim Bloom does have a history of making trades during all months of the season.
If the Red Sox are willing to gamble, this is the best scenario for them to dictate the terms of the trade, eat less money, and possibly get a decent prospect or two in return. If they trade him now during this current offseason, the value will not nearly be as strong.