"What David Price means for the Red Sox" -- "he's a good pitcher and teams need good pitchers. NEXT!"
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) December 2, 2015
David Price will make more money this season than Nolan Ryan did in his entire 27 year career.
— Cespedes Family BBQ (@CespedesBBQ) December 2, 2015
David Price still has to pass his physical before his signing with the Boston Red Sox becomes official, but here's what some people wrote after he agreed to the largest contract by a pitcher in major league history and a contract that ties Miguel Cabrera's for the largest average annual salary in history at $31 million per season.
David Price teed off Tuesday morning at a charity golf tournament in Las Vegas believing he would be spending the next seven years pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals.
By the time he left the event hosted by former major leaguer Wally Joyner, Price had agreed to become a member of the Boston Red Sox with a deal that will make him the richest pitcher in history. ...
The Red Sox were also in negotiations with Zack Greinke, according to a high-ranking team official who asked not to be identified due the sensitive nature of negotiations.
Greinke’s representative, Casey Close, told Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski that he wanted an answer by Tuesday night on whether the team would agree to Greinke's contract proposal. Greinke is also being courted by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Dombrowski, wanting to make sure that he would land one of the two pitchers, then went to Price's agent, Bo McKinnis, early Tuesday with an increased offer and said the Red Sox needed a decision from Price by Tuesday night.
The Cardinals were also in the hunt for Price, and offered him the richest contract in franchise history, a seven-year deal worth at least $30 million less than the Red Sox's offer.
Remember the good ol' days -- like less than a month ago -- when the industry conversation was about whether Greinke would get $25 million a year for five or six years, given his age of 32? Well, forget that; Price's standing as the pitcher with the highest average annual salary might last only a few hours, especially because Greinke's position of leverage is close to a zenith: He is the best available starting pitcher, with two archrivals, the Dodgers and Giants, bidding for his services. One person close to the situation guessed that Greinke could wind up with a deal in the range of $165 million over five years. I wonder if the inclusion of the sixth year in an offer might represent the tipping point for the Dodgers or Giants.
Why spend all that money on Price instead of trading from a collection of talent still deep enough to land almost any available starter in the game? Because while John Henry and Co. are clearly moving on from one organizational philosophy -- a refusal to dole out big bucks to free-agent starters -- they're still committed to the dream of the "player development machine" Theo Epstein promised so many years ago. It might have been painful for Henry to part with $217 million, but it would've been more painful to part with Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Blake Swihart or their remaining upper-tier prospects for an arm. Especially when Price was sitting there on the market, available for nothing but cold hard cash, including the draft pick the Sox didn't lose by signing Price instead of Greinke.
We know the opt-out clause shouldn't be ignored. It’s easy to look at this as seven years and $217 million, but like Dave put it, it's like a three-year contract with a four-year option, and that's player-friendly. If Price ends up more than worth the money early on, he'll go get more. If he runs into trouble, Boston can't get out of the commitment. People differ on how opt-out clauses should be valued, but you could say this is worth even more than $217 million in a way, and you wouldn't be wrong.
We know it's important to consider Boston’s greater circumstance. And I don't even mean consecutive last-place finishes in a city that doesn't tolerate that. I mean the Red Sox are said to have a deep farm system, even after the Craig Kimbrel trade, and there's cost-controlled young talent on the big-league roster as well, and that cost near-certainty helps allow for big contracts like Price's, because you're getting bargains at so many positions you can spend big somewhere else. Young players don't stay cheap, and they don't always develop like you want them to, but the Red Sox are set up well long-term, so again, that should cushion any eventual problems. Unless Dombrowski keeps trading more prospects for relievers.
The Red Sox are winning the winter, but many of us said that last offseason, didn’t we? Let's see the rest of the puzzle. Let's see if all the pieces fit.
In some ways, it comes as a surprise that it took that long for baseball to arrive at the $200 million contract for pitchers. After all, righthander Kevin Brown became the first pitcher to hit a nine-figure guarantee when in December 1998 he struck a seven-year, $105 million deal with the Dodgers as a free agent.
At the time, according to Forbes.com, Major League Baseball was pulling in $2.8 billion in annual revenues. By the end of the 2013 season, around the time of Kershaw's deal, that number had more than tripled, with baseball making $9 billion.
Revenue -- particularly television revenue -- has enjoyed extraordinary growth. The upper end of player salaries -- and, for that matter, player salaries overall -- hasn’t kept pace to this point. But given the amount of cash coursing through the game, the $200 million pitcher was inevitable. Many teams can afford such a commitment.
Risky? Of course.
The party is over for the rest of the American League. The Red Sox, after back-to-back last place finishes in the East, are back in a big way, with Dave Dombrowski’s new regime establishing Boston as the favorite to win the pennant in 2016 before even getting to the winter meetings.