As we hurtle closer to the Winter Meetings, the top free agent on everyone’s mind has been David Price. Teams like the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, St Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants have been rumored to be the most interested so far. Let’s take a look at what it may cost to sign Price and the impact he might have.
As we analyzed in our starting pitcher positional review, there’s a lot of quality on the starting pitcher market this season. Without a doubt, the prize of them all is David Price. The 30 year old, 6-foot-6, left-hander has been nothing but dominant over the past few years and considered among the top five pitchers in all of baseball. He owns a career 104-56 record, 3.09 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 1372 strikeouts in 1441.2 innings over eight seasons. He’s been voted to five All Star teams and was the AL Cy Young Award winner in 2012.
Upon signing with most Major League teams, he’d be the staff ace, but thanks to Jake Arrieta’s phenomenal season, he’d probably slide into the second slot and move Jon Lester down to the third slot. A rotation of those three would immediately improve the pitching depth in the playoffs and make the Cubs a much scarier foe. Price has been very complementary of the young Cubs team and has offered a lot of praise for how the team has been built over the past couple of years. He also has expressed desire to work again with Joe Maddon who was the manager of the Rays during his time in Tampa. All of these things are certainly in the front office’s favor, but make no mistake, Price is going to command top dollar and won’t take any less to simply be familiar and comfortable.
Reports have suggested that Price is likely to command a seven-year deal as a minimum length and in terms of money, $200 million plus. Price also does not come with draft pick compensation, so his market grows since teams will not have to forfeit a first round pick in order to sign him. Reports have said he could get as much as $30 million per year, which is about $4 million more a season annually than Lester is getting in his deal.
Like Lester, Price has been fairly reliable and since 2010 has averaged about 216 innings per season. With any long term free agent deal, the big question is how long Price can be expected to hold up over its entirety. A cautionary tale of what could happen is Cliff Lee who prior to signing with the Phillies had pitched 200 or more innings of dominant baseball for five of his six past seasons. At 32, he signed a five-year, $120 million dollar deal with a vesting option for a sixth year based on innings pitched. In 2014, four years into his deal, Lee suffered an elbow strain and he hasn’t pitched since.
David Price would be quite a coup for a young team that surprised everyone with a playoff berth. It would announce to all the other teams in baseball that the Chicago Cubs are serious about winning and will do whatever it takes. Whoever ends up signing Price will likely dole out the biggest free agent contract of the off-season. That’s quite a large expenditure twice in two years for a team still looking to build and round out their roster. With owner Tom Ricketts, self-financing the renovation of Wrigley Field and not even close to complete, a signing of Price could kill the team’s budget for the rest of the off-season, but if a World Series comes with it, the Price (see what I did there) will be worth it.
Cubs 2015 Position Reviews
- First Base
- Second Base
- Third Base
- Left Field
- Center Field
- Right Field
- Starting Rotation
• Follow Chris on Twitter: @TheChrisKulawik