“Wow.” That was all Marcus Stroman had to say when he heard the news. David Price has been traded to the Boston Red Sox for $217 million over 7 years. HOLY CRAP THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY. $31 million a year to a 30 year old pitcher who has yet to win a play-off game as a starting pitcher. Most Jays fans are in shock, and probably disappointed. For those fans that tuned in after the All-Star break, Price seemed like the fire that led us to end our 22 year playoff drought. But it’s not that simple. Price going to the Red Sox is far from the worst thing that could happen, and for us, is probably a blessing in disguise.
The BoSox have been known to make big name off-season trades in recent years, and where has that got them? Oh yeah, last place. Pedroia, Ramirez, Sandoval, Porcello, and now Price are some of the top earners for the men in red (Ortiz is a beast unto himself, with very interesting option add-ons for 2015-17). But how is this a good thing for our Blue Jays?
The answer doesn’t lie here, but in future years. Like 2019 when the BoSox will be paying over $100 million just for those players mentioned above. That’s right, over 50% of their budget will go to 5 players; most of whom haven’t exactly shone recently. This is a very good thing for the Blue Jays for a couple of reasons. 1) it means that the BoSox are now on a very short leash when it comes to acquiring new talent, and 2) they could be looking at a fire sale to get rid of those high-earners at a steal just to get some cash on hand.
Even though that’s more than three years from now, there is still immediate good to not signing David Price. There’s a reason Paul Beeston didn’t want to give out contracts more than 5 years- they’re bad for business. You just need to look at the Vernon Wells deal ($126 mil/7 yr) that had him be paid $21 million in the 2014 season. Luckily, Anthopolous worked some of his wizard magic and had the Angels take the brunt of that contract, but the point is, how do we know that David Price will still be worth $31 million/year in the 2020s? We don’t. That’s why this non-move was a great move for the Jays. The AL East chews up and spits out pitchers with its highly competitive teams and potent lineups. Price may have a few good years ahead of him, but 7 is definitely a stretch, even for the most optimistic of fans.
The Jays are playing it safe, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We have the best offence in all of baseball, and that is the undeniable truth. Yes, pitching is important, but winning 9-1 and winning 9-8 are the same thing; wins. With Stroman in the regular rotation, Chavez, Happ and Dickey sitting pretty in the middle and Hutch/Sanchez taking up the rear, we could still make it work if we have to. Another starter would be great, but we don’t have much of a farm team left to trade away and young players like Pompey and Pillar are worth more to us than a 3rd string pitcher.
Having Price come to Toronto for those few months ignited life back into Toronto baseball, and gave us the best half-season in over two decades. But Price wasn’t the fire that started in Toronto last year, he’s the smoke that alerted Toronto to wake up and pay attention. We have all of the logs and kindling we need, now we just have to sit back, relax, and let the fire build itself.