Wednesday was the official introduction of new Los Angeles Dodgers Mookie Betts and David Price. Many are concerned with what the Red Sox will look like without Betts in right field, but there should be just as much concern with what this team may look like without Price taking the bump. Initially many Sox fans that were dealing with the shock of the trade were maybe glad to see the departure of the player that “held all the cards.” This was financially necessary to move David Price, who would have been a 10/5 player which means with 10 years of playing time in the majors and five with the same team. This would have been year five with Boston, and Price would have been able to veto any trade the Sox tried to include him in.
If he stayed with Boston, starting this year Price would have been due $96 million through the end of the 2022 season. That cap hit, plus what the Sox would have had to pay J.D. Martinez, Chris Sale and Xander Bogaerts would make it difficult to acquire a potential future free agent.
When it came to his play on the field Price was hot and cold as a Red Sox starter. 103 starts with Boston and a 46-24 record over 588 innings with the Sox, but a player’s stats are magnified against the Yankees. Over the past three seasons Price was 2-5 with a 7.88 ERA over 37+ innings against the Bronx Bombers. But in all fairness he had an ERA of 3.69 against the rest of the American league from 2017-19.
Price, regardless of how you may feel, could have made a difference in 2020 for this pitching staff. Chris Sale is expected to start on opening day, with Eduardo Rodriguez following him in the starting rotation. With one less arm on the Sox, health becomes an important thing to watch this season. Chris Sale has started fewer and fewer games with the Red Sox since signing in 2017, and has also dealt with shoulder inflammation over the past two seasons. Rodriguez is coming off his best season as a starter, with a 19-6 and a 3.81 ERA over 34 starts. It’s entirely possible we see a repeat in 2020 for E-Rod, but regardless there will be an increased need for good starts for pitchers 3-5 in the starting rotation. Nathan Eovaldi and Martin Perez are probably in line for the three and four spots, with new Sox skipper Ron Roenicke saying the 5th spot in the starting rotation could be used as an “Opener” bullpen game, popularized by the Tampa Bay Rays in recent years.
There are big name pitchers to look at this season in the trade market or next offseason, led by Marcus Stroman, Jake Odorizzi and more. Trading a big name outfielder and former Cy-young winner may make it look like Boston is going into a rebuild, but sometimes when you plan for the future you have to pay the price.