Fun fact: According to Wikipedia (absolute power move to begin a blog post with “according to Wikipedia”), there are 3 countries in the world with GDPs lower than $217 million. David Price will soon become the 4th poorest country in the world.
Dave Dombrowski ain’t messin around. The Red Sox new President of Baseball Operations landed the biggest piece on the free agent market by inking David Price to a contract that is $2 million more than Clayton Kershaw, undeniably the best pitcher in the league (other than Rick Porcello). The Red Sox finally have the ace that they haven’t had since July 31, 2014 when they traded Jon Lester.
Let’s get this out of the way: The Red Sox massively overpaid, and anyone who denies that may as well tell you that the earth is flat. Price will turn 37 a few months prior to the contract’s end, and paying $31 million per year is clearly an overpay for a guy like that. Kershaw is a superior pitcher and signed for roughly the same amount when he was entering his age 26 season. So yeah, this is an overpay.
That being said, it’s a tremendous move for the Red Sox. Price has pitched in the American League East, has won an AL Cy Young, and didn’t cost the Red Sox a draft pick like Greinke, Zimmerman, or others would have. If you’re worried about the beef between David Ortiz and Price, then the fact that the Sox signed Price should signal to you that the Red Sox feel confident that they can co-exist. You don’t pay $31 million a year for a significant risk of clubhouse issues. Ortiz and Price can work together from February through October, and then they’ll never have to interact again.
Fangraph’s prediction of contract value for the next 7 years paints a very favorable pitching for the signing, as well. When judging a contract like this, you have to remember just how much each WAR costs on the free agent market nowadays.
The downside to the contract is opportunity cost. The Sox appear to have a payroll that’s already about $190 million, and that’s before the contracts to Mookie, Xander, Swihart, and others. (I’m taking those numbers from Spotrac, who only has 12 contracts listed so far.) If my memory is correct, 2016 will easily be the highest the Sox payroll has ever been. John Henry and Co. have never been open to the idea of spending as much as the Dodgers, indicating that Price will be the only significant addition in free agency. You can only dish out so many dollars when Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval are on the roster. I guess there’s no chance for a signing of a solid 3rd started like I wanted.
But the cost and the opportunity cost are both well worth it. The Red Sox just landed one of the best players, pitchers or hitters, in baseball, and it was the biggest hole that they had to fill. The Sox were 4th in the Majors last year in runs scored and had a starting pitching ERA of 4.39. The Royals’s starters clocked in at 4.34. The difference between the pair of teams was the bullpen… but 4.39 needs a lot of improvement as well. If the Red Sox can be in the top 20% of the league in runs again, improve to a roughly league average ERA of 4.00 or even 4.10 or 4.15, and lower their bullpen ERA from 4.24 to a roughly league average 3.75 or 3.80 with Craig Kimbrel and hopefully one other small signing, that’s a recipe for a World Series winner in 2016.
Sounds like a good time to say it… Get the Duckboats Ready!