Price is might: Boston lands lefty with hefty deal
BOSTON -- The Red Sox continued their Hot Stove hot streak on Tuesday, agreeing to terms with lefty David Price on a seven-year, $217 million contract, a source told MLB.com.
It is the largest contract ever awarded to a pitcher, narrowly edging out the $215 million extension Clayton Kershaw signed with the Dodgers and the $210 million pact Max Scherzer signed with the Nationals. The average annual value of $31 million per season ties the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera for the largest deal in history, regardless of position.
Boston's deal with the 30-year-old Price is pending a physical.
The agreement, which has not been confirmed by the club, was first reported by The Boston Globe.
Because Price was traded during the 2015 season, the Blue Jays weren't permitted to extend him a qualifying offer, and that means the Red Sox won't lose a Draft pick because of the signing.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Price's contract includes an opt-out clause after the 2018 season.
The marquee move is the second major one made by Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, who acquired premier closer Craig Kimbrel from the Padres in exchange for four prospects a couple of weeks ago.
After finishing in last place the past two seasons, the Red Sox have demonstrated during the early portion of the offseason how driven they are to become a major contender again.
Assuming the deal becomes official, Dombrowski would reunite with Price, the man he acquired in July 2014 while with the Tigers, only to trade him to the Blue Jays a year later when Detroit fell out of contention. Roughly a week after trading Price, Dombrowski parted ways with the Tigers.
The Red Sox hired Dombrowski on Aug. 18, and the veteran executive indicated several times that he would be assertive in rebuilding the pitching staff. He's now done that by snagging two of the premier arms in the game.
Price, who has spent most of his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, is a pitcher with whom the Red Sox are very familiar. Price helped the Rays beat the Red Sox in the 2008 American League Championship Series with a dominant relief performance in Game 7. In the 2013 AL Division Series, Boston turned the tables on Price by beating him in Game 2 and winning the series in four games.
David Ortiz belted two homers against Price in that game, and the lefty wasn't happy with the way the slugger took his time to round the bases. In their first encounter of 2014, Price hit Ortiz in the back, and Ortiz was critical of him afterward.
Ortiz, who has announced he will retire at the end of the 2016 season, should have plenty of time to patch things up with Price. The two players will be united with a cause -- Ortiz wanting to go out with a fourth World Series ring and Price wanting to win his first.
One of the many things that made Price so attractive to the Red Sox is his success pitching in the AL East, a division he is 49-21 against with a 3.15 ERA. That includes an impressive track record at Fenway Park, a venue where Price is 6-1 with a 1.95 ERA in 11 career regular-season starts.
The one thing Price will try to change with Boston is his fortunes in the postseason, a time of year in which he has gone 0-7 with a 5.27 ERA in eight starts. He has notched two victories in six career postseason appearances out of the bullpen.
In 218 regular-season appearances, Price is 104-56 with a 3.09 ERA. He is coming off a stellar 2015 season, in which he went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA and logged 220 1/3 innings.
Price won the AL Cy Young Award in 2012 and finished second in 2010 and '15.
The Red Sox have lacked a true ace since July 31, 2014, the day former general manager Ben Cherington dealt Jon Lester to the Athletics and John Lackey to the Cardinals.
Last offseason, the Red Sox engaged in free-agent discussions to try to bring Lester back, but weren't willing to spend as much as the Cubs, who landed Lester with a six-year, $155 million deal.
At the time, Boston expressed reservations about investing long-term for a pitcher in his 30s.
The club tried to win last season with good rotation depth that lacked star power. The philosophy didn't work, and under Dombrowski, the Red Sox engaged aggressively with Price, who instantly becomes the team's ace.
Boston also has Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Joe Kelly, Wade Miley and the promising Eduardo Rodriguez back in the fold for 2016. Henry Owens might factor in as well, and the Red Sox could also deal from their rotation to upgrade elsewhere.
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Fantasy owners can count on Price to be a top-10 starter in 2016. The left-hander has proven that he can succeed in the AL East, and he owns a lifetime 1.95 ERA across 74 innings at Fenway Park. The Red Sox should provide plenty of run support if they can combine impressive youngsters such as Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts with skilled veterans such as Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. And with a bullpen that includes Kimbrel and Koji Uehara, the club will be able to turn most late-inning leads into victories. Price's arrival is certainly good news for Kimbrel, who should have more leads to protect.
With Price in fold, the Red Sox are less likely to give their young starters early-season rotation spots. Eduardo Rodriguez should be able to crack the starting five, but potential sleepers such as Owens and Brian Johnson seem destined to open the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.