After Max Scherzer signed with the Washington Nationals for $210 million last offseason, David Price has to be salivating at the thought of potentially earning approximately a quarter of a billion dollars with the next contract he signs. The free-agent bidding war for Price’s services has already begun, and any team interested in talking with him has to be prepared to begin negotiations at a number north of $200 million. Price, a harbinger of health at baseball’s most volatile position, is about to get paid.
This week, I’ll be examining the best potential fits for a handful of Major League Baseball’s most prominent free agents, and Price is first on the list. A capable culture-changer who provides more to his organization than just what he gives on the mound, David will be able to name his price to any team coming with a blank check.
The Chicago Cubs have an incredibly bright future ahead with young foundational pillars in Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell already in the fold. But as the club found out during the postseason, good pitching can often neutralize good hitting, and the Cubs simply don’t have enough of it.
After paying Jon Lester to be the staff ace of a team that desperately needed one last winter, it was Jake Arrieta who emerged as the true No. 1. That is a formidable one-two punch atop the rotation, and Price’s addition would be the knockout blow for a team looking to emphatically land its final punch in the form of a World Series title.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles needed another starter before Zack Greinke officially opted out of his deal, and now the Dodgers are going to be in desperation mode if (when?) Greinke departs for a new team. After making incorrect evaluations on Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Mat Latos and Alex Wood, it’s now time for President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman, in the biggest offseason of his career, to swing the big stick and pick his Price regardless of the cost. You can’t replace quality with quantity and expect to have the same product.
It’s fair to wonder how the Dodgers’ season could have ended had the team acquired Price at the deadline to create a three-headed monster with Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, but that scenario is dead and the Dodgers can’t afford to dream anymore. There is a massive need for another ace, and if Los Angeles continues to prioritize tomorrow instead of today, the organization is going to allow others in its division to catch up with—and likely surpass—whatever it is Los Angeles is trying to build.
Boston Red Sox
Dave Dombrowski, the successful baseball executive with an affinity for acquiring staff aces, who pulled the trigger on a Price deal during his Detroit Tigers tenure, is now calling the shots in Boston. The Red Sox, a team that egregiously miscalculated its pitching depth prior to last season, have made no secret that they’re going to be in the market for at least one front-line starter. It doesn’t take more than a math degree from your local elementary school to figure out what is about to come next.
Price checks all of the boxes for Boston, and the team cannot allow its recent string of poor long-term investments to negatively influence a rock-solid future bet. Having previously succeeded for two different teams in the vaunted American League East, without an injury history and a guy who wants the ball when his team needs him most, Price would send electricity through a Fenway crowd that hasn’t been lit from the mound since Jon Lester’s awkward departure.
San Francisco Giants
The Giants are going to pursue multiple starting pitchers, and the only question is which one(s) they’ll wind up signing. San Francisco has made no secret of their need to upgrade the starting rotation, and Price’s potential pairing alongside Madison Bumgarner would send shivers down the opposition’s spine. Tim Hudson is riding off into retirement, Mike Leake is heading into free agency as a popular target since he comes without a qualifying contract offer and the Giants are without MLB-ready internal options to replace either one.
With veteran Jake Peavy preparing for potentially his final campaign and almost impossible to project at this stage of his career, Chris Heston anything but a proven product and the return of Tim Lincecum—who really can’t be relied upon—at the opposite end of certainty, the Giant Price could be right on the money. If San Francisco winds up losing out on the player that should top their offseason wish list, expect either Zack Greinke or Jordan Zimmermann to call the Bay Area home.
An ultra-aggressive Astros front office correctly realized Houston’s window to win is now wide open, but the team too regularly chose a square peg for a round hole. There was no need to overpay Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson once Andrew Miller spurned their offer in free agency and little logic in acquiring an up-and-down Scott Kazmir to be a pillar of consistency. Expect an evolving group to learn from those mistakes, and push forward in their pursuit of pieces that actually fit the puzzle.
Dallas Keuchel is likely to take home the American League Cy Young Award once the winner is announced, but Price is going to garner a ton of attention behind him. Imagine Houston rolling them out on back-to-back nights with Collin McHugh, Mike Fiers and Lance McCullers rounding out the starting five, and suddenly the Astros blow the roof off of their previously capped ceiling. And with Price’s beloved dog carrying the name Astro, some may call it destiny.
Other Teams to Watch: Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees