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The Boston Red Sox needed an ace, so they went out and got the best free agent on the market. David Price has reportedly come to terms with the Red Sox on a seven-year contract worth $217 million, according to The Boston Globe.
That's not just mega bucks for Price, it's the biggest contract ever for a starting pitcher, edging Clayton Kershaw's $215 million. The average annual value of Price's deal, $31 million, ties Miguel Cabrera for the highest in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals were the runners up for Price, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the contract has a three-year opt out clause, which means the lefty pitcher could be setting himself up for one more big payday, if his career continues along the same exceptional path.
Price, 30, has been as consistent as they come in his eight-year career, maintaining a 3.09 career ERA, winning a Cy Young award and finishing second twice. After his rookie year, he hasn't ended a season with an ERA above 3.50.
So, for a Red Sox rotation that needed stability, that needed a proven commodity, he was the right fit. In fact, there was probably no better match in free agency than the Red Sox and Price — a big-budget team hungry for an ace, and a pitcher who has shown he can dominate in the AL East.
It helps too, that Dave Dombrowski, the new Red Sox president, can speak from experience about Price. He was the Detroit Tigers GM who traded for him in 2014, then traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2015. So, Dombrowski, looking to return the Red Sox to the top of the division spared no time and no expense to get Price.
From Peter Abraham at the Boston Globe, who broke the news:
The Sox built a rotation of middling starters last season, a flawed strategy that led to finishing in last place. Dave Dombrowski, an executive with a long history of making splashy deals, was hired as president of baseball operations to make significant changes and was aggressive in doing so.
As Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan notes, this signing is a testament to Dombrowski and the Red Sox's faith in him. After two big-name signings last year in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval that didn't provide instant returns, Red Sox ownership didn't want to spend more than $100 million on a free agent this offseason. Dombrowski convinced them otherwise.
In addition to Price, the Dombrowski has already traded for closer Craig Kimbrel to help the Red Sox's bullpen. They've signed outfielder Chris Young in a move that seems to set them for a trade, since they also have Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo and Brock Holt. Boston has also reportedly been trying to trade Ramirez, who would otherwise play first base after his failed outfield experiment a year ago.
On the pitching side of things, the Red Sox return many starters, from which they'll now have to sort out a competitive rotation after their approach of acquiring mid-range innings-eaters didn't work out a year ago.
Rick Porcello, who they'll be paying $20 million this season, should be a No. 2 starter with the money he's getting, but he posted a 4.92 ERA. Joe Kelly, who is arbitration eligible this year, was pretty good in the second half after a disastrous first half, and Eduardo Rodriguez, 22, impressed in his rookie season with 10 wins and a 3.85 ERA. There's also Clay Buchholz, Wade Miley and rookie Henry Owens in the fold. It's obvious the Red Sox still have moves to make, so guessing whether Dombrowski's team, as it's currently assembled, can win next season is a bit of a fool's errand, but there's certainly talent in Boston.
As for the rest of the league: With Price and Jordan Zimmermann (who signed with the Detroit Tigers for $110 million over five years) off the market, teams chasing top-flight starters will now turn to Zack Greinke and Johnny Cueto.
The market is set, the money is flying and more pitchers will be getting paid big bucks soon enough.
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