The biggest story in baseball was broken yesterday by Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe when he shared the news of David Price’s decision to sign a monster seven-year-$217 million deal with the Red Sox. The decision itself comes as little surprise, as noted by Rob Bradford of WEEI, especially considering the historic nature of the deal, which makes Price the highest paid pitcher in MLB history. The deal also breaks the Red Sox record for largest contract ever given and includes an opt-out clause after the first three years.
What is surprising about the deal is the timeline in which it was completed. Here the Sox are a week away from when the Winter Meetings are set to begin and their off-season checklist of proven ace, dominant closer, and lefty mashing fourth-outfielder have all been checked off as complete. Christmas has come early indeed.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today explains in his piece that this decision had to come quickly due to pressure being put on the Red Sox from the Cardinals on the Price side and from Zack Grienke’s representatives on the other side. Price was reportedly very excited about the idea of joining the Cardinals but when the Red Sox came in with a Godfather offer of $30 million more he was headed to Boston. Grienke’s side was reportedly in fairly serious talks with the Red Sox as well and wanted an answer to his contract proposal by Tuesday night.
One take away from all of this is that the Red Sox were dead set on getting one of either Price or Greinke, which represents a noted break in their philosophical belief against signing starting pitchers over thirty. Perhaps as Rick Doyle of NESN summarizes in his article, this is a reaction to three out of four seasons ending in last place finishes. Or perhaps it was as Brian McPherson of the Providence Journal stated; fueled by frustration of the failed youth movement with Joe Kelly and Rick Porcello. While both of these considerations are likely, I think the decision to sign Price is even more nuanced.
The Red Sox felt comfortable going here with Price because of who he is and what he has done in the league, as noted by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Price has been successful in the league since day one, having made multiple All-Star teams, winning a Cy Young award and changing teams three times all while maintaining his success in the American League. Price is unmatched in his work ethic, dedication to his craft, and as a positive force in the locker room. This was a smart move for the Red Sox and one that frankly had to be done.
How this deal will work out for the team is anyone’s guess. FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan, in his analysis of the deal, writes that what we do know is that the Red Sox are a whole lot better with Price and Craig Kimbrel than without. There is still room to improve for the team and as the Winter Meetings get underway one last chief concern for Dombrowski will be seeing if any team is interested in taking on Hanley Ramirez. This may have just become a whole lot more complicated since the Baltimore Orioles and Seattle Mariners just completed a trade and they were considered possible landing spots, but I have some faith in Dave. Even if this is it for the team, this offseason has been a success.
Fallout talk from the Price pickup has been swift, and speculation from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is that the Red Sox may now look to trade a starting pitcher. Who could that be? Marc Normandin of Over The Monster takes a look at some options and considers Joe Kelly or Wade Miley to be likely candidates. I agree with him that they are the most likely to be dealt but I think that neither should be unless the Red Sox are overwhelmed.
My optimal solution includes Joe Kelly shifting to the bullpen, where I think he can be incredibly effective, and keeping Miley, an underrated and cheap innings-eater, in the rotation. If you are going to roll the dice with Clay Buchholz for another year, which at $13 million you absolutely should, you are going to need durable bodies back there. While I like Henry Owens and Brian Johnson a fair amount there is no such thing as too much pitching and Johnson is coming off an injury of his own.
One thing is for sure; whatever happens this over the next few weeks is going to be interesting as the roster begins to take its final shape. And before I sign off, here is a link the Red Sox Roster Resource page, which just got a whole lot more fun to look at.
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