02 December 2015

Why the Red Sox needed David Price

(AP)
New Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski has already been aggressive in remaking the Red Sox this offseason, specifically with regards to their pitching staff. Boston traded prospects to San Diego for closer Craig Kimbrel a few weeks ago and now they have made the biggest splash in free agency by signing star pitcher David Price to a massive seven-year, $217 million contract, the highest ever given to a pitcher. It's certainly no chump change but I would have to argue that it was a deal that had to be made.

As we already know, these huge contracts that have been given to pitchers that will last into their late 30's are pretty risky and it is a rather safe bet that even an elite pitcher such as Price will not be worth the weight of his deal when he is in the last few years on his contract when he's 34, 35 and 36. Even for a big market team like the Red Sox, forking out thirty million-plus to a pitcher when he's on the decline in a few years is still a major cost. That's not even factoring in the opt-out clause in the contract after three years which can either be a good or a bad thing for the franchise.

But after a few years of not forking out the big bucks to lure an ace to Fenway, it was clear that it was time for something different. An ace season from Price this season would be hugely valuable to a team that still has its eyes on winning the AL East and making a postseason run. Price is coming off an excellent season split between Detroit and Toronto and he already has significant experience in this division from his years with the Rays before being dealt in 2014.

Now with Price in the mix, Boston may just have enough to either return to the postseason or to even win the division (although I did think that last year). Granted, much has to go right for them to return to the postseason for the first time since winning the 2013 World Series and they would need a top-notch Price and the rest of a relatively young rotation to step up their performance, but that is also true for any MLB franchise should they want to win.

It's certainly a bold move for an executive who has made plenty of them over the years, a key reason why he was brought in. The previous ideology of staying away from paying the elite pitchers the kind of money to either acquire them or to bring them back (cough, Jon Lester, cough) resulting in a rotation without an ace and one that struggled a year ago en route to a second-straight finish in the division cellar. The Red Sox will likely regret this deal should Price not opt out in three years, but I think they'll manage should he help to bring them a Commissioner's Trophy.

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