Red Sox: How a potential David Price opt-out impacts Boston’s budget

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Mookie Betts #50 and David Price "n#33 are interviewed during a press conference at Dodger Stadium on February 12, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 12: Mookie Betts #50 and David Price "n#33 are interviewed during a press conference at Dodger Stadium on February 12, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /
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Red Sox gain financial freedom if David Price opts out of 2021 season

Yesterday evening, Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts spoke with the media via Zoom about various topics centered around general check-ins on his players. With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic affecting the sports industry as a whole, the discussion led down the path to the uncertainty in next season’s starting date.

Reports surfaced earlier this week that the 2021 MLB season very well may be delayed once again given the circumstances of the ongoing pandemic. The report indicates that MLB owners would like the entirety of their team to be vaccinated before the season can begin. While most players would likely take the vaccine willingly, it could lead to yet another dispute between the MLB and MLBPA.

With next season’s schedule currently up in the air, players and owners alike are growing frustrated with the inability of each respective party to find a happy medium that can satisfy both parties. Having sat out last season after being acquired in the infamous Mookie Betts trade, David Price could very well do the same thing in 2021. Roberts made an interesting comment regarding Price’s decision on playing for Los Angeles next season with the uncertainty of the ongoing pandemic.

While Roberts did note that his comment was speculation rather than fact, it did at least indicate that the situation had been discussed between the two parties. Price later responded to a fan by indicating that pitching in 2021 was, “the plan“. Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, which is both a pro and con given the team you root for.

In an interesting piece that would highlight the pros of Price’s impending decision, NBC Sport’s John Tomase brought up some fascinating points about Boston’s money situation. Should Price opt-out for this upcoming season, the Red Sox will likely be off the hook for the $16 million owed to him for this coming season.

The team currently sits well below the CBT luxury threshold and is in dire need of some upgrades at various positions including second base, center field, and most importantly, pitching.

Considering a player has the right to change their mind mid-season, taking a gamble on paying a larger sum of money to acquire talent while assuming the player who opted out will stay at home is not a practical method of business. Boston should pay no mind to the mere possibility that Price could walk away from another big paycheck when engaging in any discussions with free agents this offseason.

With all the newfound financial “what-if’s” of Price’s eventual decision, the team will not go over the top with spending, which was likely widely-known before this news emerged, to begin with. A theoretical Price opt-out would not pay any immediate on-field dividends until the latter half of the season if he fully confirmed his intentions not to return for the season. Should Boston rebound and be considered contenders next season, the team would have additional financial space to make a trade deadline move that could pay dividends. For the most part, that is the reality of what we can expect given the potential $16 million saved.

CBO Chaim Bloom has managed to get the team back into a position in which it can spend money with fewer repercussions such as getting dangerously close to exceeding the luxury tax again. Management has taken a very conservative approach to acquiring talent to this point in the offseason, with their most notable addition coming at the beginning of the week in signing outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

While this addition is by no means going to exponentially alter the team’s chances of being atop the division next season, it does hint that Boston will continue to make additions. The organization has been connected to several players with the intent of targeting long-term contracts rather than one-year deals. The team has notably been tied to several second-tier pitchers to this point in the offseason, such as veteran right-handed pitcher Jake Odorizzi but is in no rush to make a large offer for big-name free agents. 

Bloom suggested earlier this week that targeting players on the open market with qualifying offers attached to their name is not worth the loss of a second-round draft selection.

dark. Next. Six-man rotation should be on the table

There is no question that the team intends to make additions to reinforce weak spots on its roster, but no significant splashes are expected to be made this offseason.