Well the Dave Dombromski Era in Boston Red Sox has begun. Three weeks ago the team swung a big team deal that sent four prospects, including highly-touted outfielder prospect Manuel Margot, to the San Diego Padres in exchange for closer Craig Kimbrel. Then this past Tuesday, the Red Sox made the biggest, as well as costliest, splash of the MLB offseason.
Around 8:00 pm EST, while it was pouring rain in southern New England, the Boston Red Sox were making it rain with free agent starting pitcher David Price when the team announced they signed him to largest contract in franchise history as well as MLB history (so far). A contract that rang the tune of 7 years for a whopping $217-million. Yup, you read that correctly folks. Seven years for $217 million.
Here’s the breakdown of the contract:
2016-2018*: $30 million per year
2019: $31 million per year
2020-2022: $32 million per year
(* = Can opt out after 2018 season)
Essentially it averages out to $31 million per year over the length of the contract. But wait a second….what’s that written in small font? Oh right….the contract comes with an opt out clause. Apparently after three years into the deal, Price can pull a CC Sabathia or a Zach Grienke and opt out of his contract. So essentially Price signed a 3-year, $30-million and can either resign with the Red Sox for the remaining 4-years and $127 million or test the free agency waters again after 2018.
At first glance, one would see that this is the ace that the Red Sox desperately needed in the rotation. After all, David Price’s stat line for the 2015 season was pretty impressive. He posted 9 wins with two different teams (9-4 with 2.53 ERA in 21 starts with the Detroit Tigers and 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts with the Toronto Blue Jays), had a total of 225 strikeouts, was an All-Star, and was runner up to Houston Astro’s pitcher Dallas Keuchel for the 2015 AL CY Young award.
Pretty sweet for an ace-starved Red Sox team, wouldn’t you say?
But then you peel back the curtains to see the man behind the show. Aside from 2015, the only other time where Price had a win-loss differential greater than 10 was in 2010 (19-6) and 2012 (20-5). Other than that, he’s been pretty mediocre:
2009: 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA in 23 starts
2011: 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA in 34 starts
2013: 10-8 with 3.33 ERA in 27 starts
2014: 15-12 with 3.26 ERA in 34 starts with two teams (11-8 with 3.11 ERA in 23 starts with Tampa Rays & 4-4 with 3.59 ERA in 11 starts with the Detroit Tigers)
Not exactly worth $31 million a year.
But that’s not the elephant in the room. It’s what he does in the playoffs that should concern Red Sox fans. Price is a measly 2-7 in 14 playoff appearances (8 starts) with an ugly 5.12 ERA. Even in his most recent playoff appearance with the Toronto Blue Jays, he went a paltry 1-3 record in 4 starts with an ERA of 6.17 in just 23.1 innings pitched. Price's lone victory came in relief in Game 4 of the American League Divisional Series against the Texas Rangers and even then he was shaky (3.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 K).
And doesn’t this signing go against the ‘philosophy’ of Red Sox management of not wanting to sign players (especially pitchers) over 30 (David Price turned 30 this past August 26) to long-term, lucrative deals. One John Henry was quoted last year in an interview with Bloomberg Business in regards to a study about the costs of signing players over 30 to long-term deal. Quote,
“To me, the most important thing this study shows is that virtually all of the underpaid players are under 30 and virtually all the overpaid players are over 30. Yet teams continue to extravagantly overpay for players above the age of 30.”
Funny how they stonewall Jon Lester, using that logic but then go and throw money at another pitcher who is 30+ years old. Hypocritical if you want to take it a step further.
But then again, this was the same John Henry that brought in Bobby Valentine in 2012, allowed former Red Sox GM to sign Hanley Ramirez to a 4-year $88-million contract, with a fifth year vesting option for an extra $22-million, to play a position he never played ever (left field), allowed one of their buddies (Larry Lucchino) to screw around with their Triple-A team (wanting to move it), and allow themselves to be handcuffed to one of baseball's biggest divas and beckon to his every whim and whine.
The Red Sox could have gotten Jon Lester for half the price back in 2014. He was quoted to saying he would take a hometown discount, that he enjoyed playing in Boston and appreciated the fans. Instead he was mocked by management, was shown the door, and got kicked in the butt on the way out. Now instead they’ve paid a king’s ransom for what appears to be an ‘ace’ but crumbles in the. In an earlier piece, yours truly wrote about how it would be a mistake for the Red Sox to re-sign Lester. Now with hindsight, I would rather roll the dice with a solid, battle-hardened, and PROVEN postseason pitcher rather than somebody who pitches well in the regular season but fades away come playoff time.
Is the Price right for the Red Sox? Only time will tell.
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