The Red Sox’ $217 million offer over seven years blew away St. Louis for David Price’s services by $27 million, according to a major league source.
The Cubs were behind the Cardinals even though Price favored the Cubs, with the Cardinals as his second choice.
I’m sure Dave Dombrowski made an offer Price couldn’t refuse and landed the ace Dombrowski said the Red Sox needed to get.
Dombrowski has great knowledge about the player. He traded for Price in Detroit, then traded him away. He knew what it would take to sign him. Neither the Cardinals’ best efforts nor Cubs manager Joe Maddon’s relationship with Price could turn the tide.
The Cubs outbid the Red Sox by about $20 million last offseason for Jon Lester. This time the wheels were turned in Boston’s favor. The Giants and Dodgers were in it, but Price, a native of suburban Nashville, didn’t want to go to the West Coast. Toronto, the team Price created so much excitement for, wasn’t anywhere to be found.
What the deal does is give Boston its ace, so the remainder of the staff can take shape behind the leader. Clay Buchholz, Eduardo Rodriguez, Rick Porcello, Wade Miley and Joe Kelly are the likely five with Henry Owens, Brian Johnson, and Stephen Wright in reserve.
It gives Boston three lefthanded starters, a great commodity in a lefthanded-hitting-dominant division and league. The Red Sox could keep everyone or they could trade a starter. Trading Buchholz, an injury-prone starter who has morphed into a 20-start-a-season pitcher, makes $13 million.
Kelly and Miley are attractive to other teams. The Red Sox could deal a pitcher, then get prospects in return that would help offset the four prospects they relinquished to the Padres in the Craig Kimbrel deal.
Dave Dombrowski might have time to listen to country music while he’s in Nashville next week for the winter meetings. He could try to trade off Hanley Ramirez or he could try to acquire another reliever.
But his major work is done.
He’s picked off arguably the best closer and the best starter before the winter meetings even begin. The Red Sox are in business for 2016. They should be a favorite to win the AL East. Now that Toronto has lost Price, the Yankees don’t appear to be interested in the free agent market, and the Orioles have a lot of rebuilding to do, especially if they lose first baseman Chris Davis, lefthanded starter Wei-Yin Chen and setup man Darren O’Day. The Rays don’t compete for free agents or high-priced players, so they’ll keep relying on their young pitching staff to keep them in the hunt.
The Red Sox need their young players to keep getting better, though Dombrowski pointed out earlier that young players don’t always improve. But if Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts keep rising, if Blake Swihart has a breakout season, and if Jackie Bradley Jr. stays consistent with his offense, the Red Sox will have an exciting team.
If veterans David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia can avoid injuries and maintain their leadership roles, then the Sox will have a good core group in the clubhouse and on the field. There are still issues with Pablo Sandoval’s weight and Ramirez’s attitude. Porcello will begin his lucrative extension and must produce well beyond his disappointing 2015.
There are no guarantees that throwing a lot of money at problems will fix them, but the Red Sox had no choice but to spend like a big-market team does and try to fix the mistakes of the past couple of years.
In this rotation, Owens and Johnson likely will not have a chance to break in with the big-league team unless there are injuries or a trade. The Red Sox aren’t going to take the chance with young pitchers, not off the bat in 2016, anyway. Rodriguez is the exception and has almost a full year under his belt.
So Dombrowski pulled a deal off in quick fashion. He beat the field. He got a front-of-the-rotation starter that can at least get the Red Sox to the playoffs.
We know Price’s playoff history, but those things can change for the better, just as they did for Roger Clemens in the postseason.
All in all, Dombrowski has gotten off to a nice start in his Red Sox career. But the proof will be in the performance and the Red Sox making the playoffs.