The Boston Red Sox, coming off back-to-back last place finishes, made a major step in the right direction of their future on Tuesday, signing ace David Price to a massive seven year, $217 million contract. The 2012 American League Cy Young winner was one of the most coveted prizes on the open market this offseason, so his acquisition is quite the coup despite the cost. Because of the magnitude of the move, it’s still generating quite the buzz, and from the standpoint of Boston there is very little to not like about the deal.
The initial talk about the Price signing was regarding the amount of money he received, with his $31 million average salary per year making him the highest paid pitcher in history. It may sound strange but the money should be merely a side note in this story. The Red Sox are one of the most successful franchises in professional sports and clearly felt they could absorb that kind of hit to their budget given the potential reward. There are perhaps three to five pitchers in the world who are as talented and established as the 30-year-old lefty. To get such talent, you have to open the wallet, which Boston did—a reported $30 million more than any other team in the running for his services.
Here are a few other thoughts on Price’s acquisition:
! Although they paid a king’s ransom in cash, the Red Sox got their ace without having to surrender any of their prospects or their first-round pick from the upcoming draft. Not only are such assets worth money, they can also be used down the line to help fortify the team in other areas of need. Signing one of the other top starting pitchers on the free-agent market would have cost the team the 12th overall pick in the 2016 draft, so being able to keep it is a shrewd and underrated aspect of this signing.
! Having spent the bulk of his career pitching in the American League East, Price is intimately familiar with his new opponents and pitching at Fenway Park. In fact, he is a stellar 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 career starts at his new home; a great sign that its cozy confines shouldn’t present too much of a challenge.
! Price is 38-13 in his career against the other teams in the division. In particular, he has dominated the Toronto Blue Jays, going 16-2 with a 2.41 ERA in 21 starts.
! At 2-7 with a 5.12 ERA in 63.1 career postseason innings, many have pointed at Price’s potential inability to finish the job if he can get Boston back into the playoff picture. Not only is that too small a sample size to generalize him as not a big game pitcher, there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. During the regular season, he has arguably been at his best in late-season games, going 21-7 with a 2.92 in September and October—when pennant races are at their most tense.
! The consensus seems to be that Price is an outstanding teammate. Big salaries can bring big egos, so a big-budget team like the Red Sox can thrive when their best players also lead by example.
! Bringing in Price immediately releases an enormous amount of pressure from the other pitchers in Boston’s rotation. He is the obvious number one, and veterans like Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Clay Buchholz don’t have to worry about being miscast in roles that they would likely never live up to. Additionally, young hurlers like Henry Owens and Eduardo Rodriguez should have less scrutiny, as there is no longer such an emergent need for them to not only develop quickly but develop into aces.
There is a lot to think about with this signing. There are never any guarantees in sports, especially when it comes to contracts. However, Boston clearly had a plan in mind heading into this offseason and they were able to accomplish it within whatever boundaries they established for themselves. They will now try to build that into a long-term plan and get back to the winning ways that had resulted in three World Series titles over the previous decade. At the very least, nothing could do a better job of making fans wish spring training would get here a little faster.
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