The Red Sox’ potential landing spots for starter David Price has diminished by one.
According to multiple reports, lefthanded starter Hyun-jin Ryu and the Toronto Blue Jays agreed to a four-year, $80 million deal.
The Blue Jays were talking to the Red Sox about a potential trade for Price, a major league source confirmed, which would help the Sox shed payroll and offer the Jays a veteran starter to mesh with their young team.
The source said the Jays were intrigued at the thought of bringing back Price, who was traded from the Detroit Tigers to Toronto at the deadline in 2015. But, that has obviously changed with Ryu heading to Toronto.
The Blue Jays, who have tons of payroll flexibility for the next three years before their promising young core becomes arbitration eligible, have noted their ongoing interest in upgrading their rotation. They signed righthander Tanner Roark to a two-year, $24 million deal this month. Roark, 33, went 10-10 with a 4.35 ERA with Cincinnati and Oakland last season.
Although the Jays had interest in Price, multiple league sources continued to suggest that any conversations involving the 34-year-old lefthander appeared to have been exploratory rather than advanced. That suggestion is now evident.
Price, who signed a seven-year $217 million deal with the Red Sox prior to the 2016 season, is still owed $96 million. The Red Sox likely will have to take on some of that salary if they trade Price. Unloading Price would give the Red Sox payroll flexibility and possibly allow them to retain Mookie Betts, who is projected to make $27 million in arbitration in 2020.
The Red Sox are exploring all avenues as it pertains to remaining competitive while trying to get out from under any luxury-tax bill.
Free agent pitchers have been on the move this year and the market is moving quicker. Dallas Keuchel and the Chicago White Sox reportedly agreed to a three-year $55.5 million deal. A vesting fourth year could take him to $74 million in that span. Gerrit Cole signed with the New York Yankees for a record nine-year, $324 million deal. Now, Ryu has a deal that all but assures Price won’t be making his way back to Canada.
Historically, Price has been known for his durability, leading the league in 2016 when he tossed 230 innings for the Red Sox. But, since then, he hasn’t reached the 200-inning mark, dealing with a number of injuries (elbow issues, carpal tunnel).
Last season, Price was shut down in September because of a cyst in his wrist after pitching just 107⅓ innings.