David wasn’t worth the Price for the Red Sox
The Red sox needed a spark to energize the club in the wake of consecutive last-place finishes. Inking former Cy Young award winner David Price to a seven-year, $217 million deal, the richest contract ever given to a pitcher at the time, certainly changed the outlook for the team heading into the 2016 season.
Price wasn’t terrible in his first year in Boston but he was still viewed as a disappointment based on his reputation and massive salary. He won 17 games and led the league with 230 innings but his 3.99 ERA was by far the highest it had been since his rookie season.
His numbers improved during his second season in Boston but everything else about 2017 was a disaster. An elbow injury in spring training delayed his debut until Memorial Day and sent him back to the injured list in July, limiting him to 11 starts. Price clashed with the media, berated a reporter after a game at Yankee Stadium and had a much-publicized confrontation with Hall of Fame pitcher and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley.
Price dialed down his erratic behavior while delivering his best performance in a Red Sox uniform in 2018. He went 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA and 9.1 K/9. He followed that with a strong postseason and arguably should have been the World Series MVP, tossing 13 2/3 innings over three appearances while allowing only three earned runs for a 1.98 ERA against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
His postseason heroics helped wash away the bitter taste from the previous two years but Price’s redemption story wouldn’t last. A promising 2019 season unraveled when Price developed a cyst on his left wrist. He tried pitching through the ailment but failed to command most of his pitches due to the lack of mobility in his wrist. Price was shelled for 20 runs over his next four starts for a brutal 10.59 ERA. He landed on the injured list and made only one more brief appearance in early September before the Red Sox shut him down again.
While he never performed to the level that his contract demanded, Price proved that he could still be a very capable starter when he was healthy. The problem was that he wasn’t healthy often enough. Combine that with a prickly attitude that rubbed fans the wrong way and it’s clear why Price was never fully embraced in Boston.
The Red Sox were desperate to shed salary in order to reset the dreaded luxury tax penalties and unloading Price’s massive contract was the simplest path to financial freedom. Unfortunately, the cost for moving Price was Mookie Betts. Boston’s reasons for trading the former MVP is a whole other can of worms but they willingly accepted a lesser haul in return because the Dodgers agreed to take Price and half of his remaining contract off their hands. Boston is stuck paying $16 million per year through the 2022 season for Price to pitch in a Dodgers uniform.