It’s already been an extremely busy offseason for Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox, and we’re only one day through the Winter Meetings. They’ve already addressed the back-end of the bullpen, pulling off a blockbuster for Craig Kimbrel. They’ve already addressed their lack of outfield depth, bringing in Chris Young on a two-year deal. They’ve already addressed their glut of average-ish pitchers, sending Wade Miley and Jonathan Aro to Seattle for Carson Smith and Roenis Elias. Oh yeah, they also signed this David Price guy.
Regardless of what else happens this winter, nothing is going to top the signing of the team’s new ace. Price was brought in on a record-breaking seven-year, $217 million deal. It marked a huge deviation from the organization’s rule that makes them typically avoid these kind of pitchers of a certain age. Boston’s hole at the top of their rotation was a major storyline since they were unable to re-sign Jon Lester last offseason, and it’s been clear for quite some time they weren’t going to let that hole go unfilled this year. So, they went and signed one of the best pitchers in the game, and even if all he does is pitch baseballs at an elite level, it’s a great signing.
The wonderful thing about David Price, however, is that he brings so much more to the table. Specifically, he’s known around the league as one of the most beloved teammates in the league. While he’s certainly gotten under some opponents’ skin over the years (hello, David Ortiz), you won’t be able to find a single teammate badmouth him either publicly or anonymously. Instead, quotes from people who have been around him are unanimously positive. Take, for example, this piece from the Globe that takes quotes from a diverse group of former teammates. The general takeaway from all of these statements is that Price is a guy who immediately changes the culture in the clubhouse, and does everything in his power to keep his team in a winning state of mind. In fact, it’s not only former teammates who exude such high praise for the former first overall pick. Alex Anthopoulos, the former general manager of the Blue Jays, was only around Price for a few months, but was still plenty confident to label him the best teammate he’s ever seen.
Looking specifically at the Red Sox, Price’s leadership qualities carry two key components for this team. The first, and easily the most important, is his knack for mentoring young pitchers. He’s been around two of the best young pitchers in the game in recent years, and both have been outspoken about how much the newest Red Sox starter has meant to them. Chris Archer is coming off a Cy Young caliber season, and has been vocal about how Price’s leadership helped him get to that point. Specifically, he mentions his ability to lead by example here, and his ability to effortlessly grow close to young pitchers here. Price was also able to rub off on Marcus Stroman in the few months they spent together this past season, and it had tremendous effects on the young Blue Jay. Stroman’s post on Instagram after Price singed with the Red Sox says all that needs to be said on that subject.
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Obviously, this is a very big deal for the Red Sox. Price will be able to show off this part of his personality right away, as the rotation he’s set to join already features a good young arm. Eduardo Rodriguez flashed great potential in his first major-league season, but also showed there are still some steps to be made. In addition to Rodriguez, the Red Sox will have Henry Owens and Brian Johnson likely coming to the team this year, and both could play major roles in years to come.
On top of that, the organization hopes that Anderson Espinoza and Michael Kopech will be at that level in a few years, and Price could still be around at that point. Boston brass has to hope Price can have a similar effect here that he had in Tampa and Toronto. We’ve seen in that past how important these relationships can be. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz had Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett and eventually John Lackey to learn from, and it’s helped make them into the pitchers they are today.
Price’s presence won’t only help the pitchers, either. As overplayed as the "clubhouse culture" may be, it’s still a real thing that matters. Right now, the Red Sox are well set with David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, but half of that duo will be gone after next season. Price can step right into that void, or at least as well as any other player in the game. The Red Sox are a team with a lot of young players, but none of whom stand out as the "clubhouse leader" type. Now, they have that role locked up for the long term.
It goes without saying that Price’s performance every five days is going to be what defines his time with the Red Sox. If he doesn’t perform, any extra value he adds is inconsequential. However, assuming he pitches like he has over the course of his career, he’s adding even more valuable by what he brings off the field. Between what he can mean for the young pitchers in the organization, and what his presence adds to the clubhouse in general, Price looks to be a great all-around addition for the Red Sox.