Red Sox fans have heard that their team is after an ace. Red Sox fans have also heard that Dave Dombrowski expects to sign said ace in free agency, rather than hitting the trade market to pursue a young gun like Sonny Gray or Jose Fernandez.
What Sox fans hadn't heard much of until yesterday was exactly who the Red Sox thought that ace was likely to be. Then came a flurry of rumors.
First was Tom Verducci, speaking on the MLB Network, who put Boston's crosshairs fully on David Price. "I believe David Price is going to Boston. Dave Dombrowski is all in," were his exact words, but take that first bit with the grain of salt it was intended to come with. Verducci believes Price is going to Boston because of how heavy Boston's interest is, not because he's reporting anything official or even approaching that.
In fact, Verducci's claims were quickly met by counterclaims saying that the Price was instead likely to head back to Toronto in 2016. David Kaplan of CSN Chicago said in a radio appearance that Toronto was willing to produce the money necessary to land Price, and that there was mutual interest, with Price having the Jays as his favorite landing spot.
Just as quickly, though, out came Rob Bradford of WEEI to refute that claim:
People I talk to in that organization aren't even privately pretending. Don't think they think it's in the cards https://t.co/7fByy62pVe
— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) November 23, 2015
We're three statements in, and already it feels necessary to recap: The Red Sox are all-in on David Price, but the free agent ace prefers to return to Toronto, where the Blue Jays would be willing to pony up the necessary money if they had it, except that they don't. Probably. Maybe.
Everyone clear? Alright, let's get Greinke in the mix. Enter Ken Rosenthal, who reinforced Boston's interest in Price, but added in that they'd be the top bidder on either him, or Zack Greinke. The idea, at least, is pretty clear: the Red Sox will get their free agent ace. And they're looking at Greinke and Price as the top two, and not interested in settling for third.
How not interested? Cueto time! Per Alex Speier, "every mention of [Johnny Cueto] to Red Sox officials elicits disbelief at how much money he'll make." And no, in context, that doesn't mean disbelief at how little. The Red Sox seem to have looked at Cueto's market, shuddered, and stepped slowly away.
No, it seems like the Red Sox have drawn their line in the sand. Only this time, it's not a line they will not cross to acquire the player they need, but one they won't step back from. It's a very different way of doing things, and I suppose kind of exactly what they expected from Dave Dombrowski. A to-the-point calculation of "we need an ace, so we're getting an ace."
But wait, there's one more twist, and it's a big one, as David Price has removed himself from the equation entirely:
I can always tell the big rumor days...tons of mentions when I haven't even said anything!! I love you all BUT I'm going to play in Japan
— David Price (@DAVIDprice14) November 24, 2015
Greinke or bust, my friends!