When the Red Sox inked David Price to a seven-year, $227 million deal last winter, there were two ways it could. The first was that the Red Sox signed a very good pitcher, and he’d pitch well enough that he’d opt out after his third season, hitting the market again as a 33-year-old. The other way was that he’d be worse than expected, and stay for the duration of the deal making over $30 million annually into his late-30’s. The southpaw sat down with Peter Abraham, though, and explained that he plans on honoring the full contract regardless of what happens over the next two seasons.
Obviously it should be noted that Price can say anything he wants right now. He can still decide to opt out of his deal when the time comes if he feels he can make some more money. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player to change his mind.
Still, it’s a big deal that he’d make this kind of statement right now, and the responses to this declaration have been predictably mixed. The idea of paying so much to a pitcher as he reaches the end of his aging curve is an objectively scary thing for an organization. While the Red Sox certainly have the money to make this work, any sort of steep decline from Price would be a big hit to Boston’s future. Remember, his post-opt-out years come right as Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley are set to hit free agency. Not that the team needs any more motivation, but the greater potential for Price to get expensive gives the Red Sox all the more reason to start negotiating extensions with their young stars.
The good news is, for as bad as Price as in 2016, he looks due for a pretty major rebound. By the peripherals, the lefty wasn’t much worse than his pre-Boston career. In fact, Baseball Prospectus had him as the fourth best pitcher in baseball by WAR (Chris Sale was number one) because of his 2.90 DRA. That doesn’t really tell the whole story, though, since his seemingly bad luck had a lot to do with all-too-common losses of command. It’s an issue that he acknowledged in Abraham’s feature, and one that hadn’t really plagued him at any other point in his career.
Beyond the commitment to making things work in Boston, Price also discussed the reaction of fans with Abraham among other topics in the wide ranging discussion. Specifically, he mentioned racist comments that he heard from fans at Fenway and situations that got so bad that he needed security to step in. It goes without saying that this is a disgraceful look for the fan base in a city that’s gained a reputation over the years. Despite his disappointing first year and the reception he received from some Sox fans in the aftermath, Price seems happy in Boston and is ready to build his life here.