The Red Sox were not alone in their pursuit of David Price, but all the news leading up to the eventual transaction made it sound as if they would spend far more than anyone else would on the free agent lefty. The Cardinals finished in second, roughly $30 million behind, but at least they were in the same ballpark with their offer -- $30 million over seven years is a little over $4 million per season difference.
The Cubs, who a year ago signed Jon Lester away from the Red Sox with a six-year, $155 million contract, were much further behind Boston's offer, as they submitted a seven-year, $161 million contract to Price. That's only a $23 million average annual value, and, it's less money per year than what they are paying Lester, who is at $25.8 million.
That's an odd decision by the Cubs, given Price is unquestionably an ace while Lester has been wonderful, but considered more of a top of the rotation type than the kind of arm Price is. Lester is worth his contract for sure, but he was never going to get a $200 million offer from anyone, either -- Max Scherzer was that guy last winter, and everyone just accepted that they were different tiers.
The Cubs putting Price into that Lester tier is off, because he's in the Scherzer one. However, this should make Red Sox fans feel good for two reasons. The first is that they got Price, and the Cubs did not, so there was no repeat of last winter at the top of Boston's rotation. The second is that, with the Cubs valuing Price about the same as they did Lester, it becomes easier to believe that, basically no matter what the Sox offered Lester, Theo Epstein and the Cubs were going to come in and top it. They valued Lester like Price, possibly at the expense of getting the actual Price, and that's an exchange Red Sox fans should be comfortable with.
That whole process began because of Boston's insultingly low first offer to Lester, of course, but at this point, it seems like things have worked out for both sides. The Red Sox got an ace who is younger and better than Lester even if he's not homegrown, and the Cubs got to say they tried after a postseason that made clear the need for one more significant arm. They can always still get one by either signing Johnny Cueto or trading one of their promising young hitters, but we'll see if they are willing to do that, or if Lester was the one time Chicago was willing to admit they have the resources to spend with anyone.