Price on Sox: 'I’m sure there will be changes'

January 13th, 2020

BOSTON -- The official start of Spring Training is still a month away, but Red Sox lefty doesn’t need to wait that long to know how much his health has improved since the end of last season.

These days, Price works out at the Red Sox’s Spring Training facility four times a week with no discomfort in his left arm or wrist.

And on Monday, intrepid radio reporter Jonny Miller of WBZ, who will be covering his 49th Spring Training, caught up with Price at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Fla.

“Arm and health are both really good right now,” Price told Miller. “I’ve been throwing for a little over a month, and just moved up to four times a week this week, and everything feels really good.”

Next week, Price will clear another hurdle when he is expected to start throwing off the mound.

While Price feels fully recovered from the left wrist injury and subsequent surgery that ended his 2019 season prematurely, he isn’t stressing about the many trade rumors he has been part of this winter.

“It doesn’t affect me. I’m still coming up here Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, getting my work in,” Price said. “I’ve been traded from Tampa Bay, from Detroit. I’ve been traded twice, and it’s part of the business. This is a business at the end of the day, and changes are going to be made, moves are going to be made, and you’ve just go out there and continue to play baseball.”

Just prior to the offseason, Red Sox owner John Henry suggested that the Red Sox needed to be under the Competitive Balance Tax threshold of $208 million for the coming season. Team president/CEO Sam Kennedy later clarified that getting under the CBT is a goal, but not a “mandate”.

Henry attempted to clarify the situation further in a weekend e-mail exchange with Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy.

“This focus on [the] CBT resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox," Henry wrote. "I think every team probably wants to reset at least once every three years -- that's sort of been the history -- but just this week ... I reminded baseball ops that we are focused on competitiveness over the next five years over and above resetting to which they said, 'That's exactly how we've been approaching it.'"

Still, it’s hard to know which direction Henry and the front office will take the payroll in the coming weeks. To get below the threshold, the Sox would need to snip nearly $30 million from their current payroll.

Given that Price is due $32 million annually for the next three seasons, it’s easy to see why he has been such a frequent name on the rumor mill. That, and the fact that starting pitching has been a very desired commodity this winter.

But Price looks at all of it matter-of-factly. He hopes the Red Sox stay largely intact, but he knows that it’s out of his hands.

“I’m sure there will be changes. I don’t know what changes will be made,” Price said. “[Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom] did a really good job while he was in Tampa. I remember him from whenever I signed in Tampa, and the years that I was there, he was always with [Andrew] Friedman. We have history together.

“Chaim has a pretty good resume of being able to have a lower-payroll team and still to be able to put out a very competitive product on the field. I think if that’s the way we’re trying to go right now, to get under the luxury tax, then that’s what they’re trying to do.”

Like everyone connected to the Red Sox, Price hopes that superstar right fielder Mookie Betts not only avoids being traded this winter, but that he winds up staying in Boston for the long term.

“He’s definitely one of the top two or three players in all of baseball. He definitely carries that title now,” Price said. “He’s said it multiple times, he’s going to go to the free-agent market. He’s not saying he won’t re-sign with Boston once he hits free agency or anything like that. He’s earned his right to get there. That’s something that a lot of guys don’t get to experience at the big league level. If he does, hopefully we can re-sign him.”

Does the recent trend of big-market teams resetting the tax every few years surprise Price?

“I mean, yeah, a little bit. I think all of this is kind of new to everybody in baseball right now,” Price said. “It’s never been something that was really seen from a bunch of clubs trying to get under that luxury tax, but that’s the way it’s going right now. We’ll see how that trend continues to go at the end of this offseason going into the next couple of years.”

If the core of the Red Sox can stay largely intact for 2020, Price envisions his team being a top contender again.

“We’ve got essentially the same team we had last year and the year before. We’re optimistic about our abilities on the diamond,” Price said.