The Red Sox have their ace. Dave Dombrowski wasted no time in acquiring arguably the top starter on the free agent market, agreeing to a seven-year, $217 million deal with free agent lefty starter David Price. The rumors had been for a few weeks now that Dombrowski and the Sox would be the ones going all-in on Price, and they were not wrong.
It's not a straight seven-year deal, though, and that's good news for the Red Sox most likely. Price has an opt-out after three seasons, so if he continues to be David Price from 2016 through 2018, he might just take off to sign another large deal with someone else. That's a maybe, of course, given just how much Boston is paying him, but he's young enough where he could sign a larger five- or six-year deal when he's done with three years here, as Zack Greinke is doing now for his age-32 season.
The largest contract ever handed out to a pitcher previously by Boston was Rick Porcello's four-year, $82.5 million extension, as well as John Lackey's five-year deal for the same. Historically, the focus has always been on adding expensive players, but not necessarily ones at the very top of the market: these even held true in the lineup, where Manny Ramirez's deal that was signed before John Henry even purchased the team remains the largest position player deal in club history.
Price brings a presence to the top of the Red Sox rotation that was sorely needed last season, and should help to solidify what looked to be an improved starting five even before his addition. He takes pressure off of Clay Buchholz and his health, Eduardo Rodriguez's sophomore campaign, and Porcello's attempt at a rebound. This is precisely the kind of deal that Dombrowski was brought on board for: a year after failing to retain Jon Lester, whether it was because ownership wouldn't authorize the money or Ben Cherington wouldn't spend it or whatever might have happened, it's spent now, and then some.
The Price deal is a massive risk, but so is any contract at this end of the free agent spectrum. If Price can help the Red Sox win now -- during David Ortiz's final season, while Dustin Pedroia remains in his early 30s, as this first wave of youth starts to make their mark on the franchise -- then it'll all be worth whatever the end of the deal looks like next decade. And hey, as Grant Brisbee wrote earlier on Tuesday: Price has been everything you want out of a first-round pick throughout his career. Maybe he'll be one of the pitchers who continues to thrive even as he ages, too. Then again, if Price is wonderful over the next three years, whatever he does in years four through seven of the deal might not be Boston's problem. Opt-outs are team-friendly like that.