Does David Price’s Lost Leverage Lift Likelihood Cubs Land Lefty
Sorry about that, but the Writing Store had an amazing Black Friday deal on alliteration and I just couldn’t help myself. The splurge may have left me unable to splurge on word count today though, so I’m hoping to stay out of debt. I actually did go shopping with the wife yesterday, though it was after the initial insanity had calmed somewhat. Now we just need to figure out how to obscure all the gifts from Santa, not to mention the Elf of the Shelf that has paid visits to both my parents and grandparents while we’ve been back for Thanksgiving, as we head home. Ambitionz as a ridah, amirite?
In turning my eyes to the north, I see that I wasn’t the only one looking for a deal. Now under the guidance of Mark Shapiro, the Blue Jays appear to be prioritizing value in their starting rotation. That makes sense though, as this past season’s run was fueled by a bit of a win-or-bust mentality that saw them part with some significant minor-league talent. Keeping things together now is going to cost a ton of cash, something Shapiro appears unwilling to burn. As they say, if you’ve got to look at Price’s tag, you can’t afford him.
The Jays just signed a JA, Happ that is, for $Wu-Tang million over three years after re-signing Marco Estrada for $26 million over two years and trading for Jesse Chavez. While this is more like the generic equivalent of a front-line starter, those three guys combined will barely eclipse Price’s AAV and with less than half the obligation to the team in terms of time. The Jays are more flexible than they could hope to be with a $200 million pitcher on the payroll. But does having them out of the picture hurt the lefty’s leverage when it comes to negotiating with other teams? After all, he and his agent made it known that a return engagement in Toronto was the preference.
Because of course it was. When it comes to leverage though, Price has still got it for days. Consider that the teams said to be after him the hardest (Cards, Cubs, Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox) represent a ton of competition and, at least in some cases, insanely deep pockets with little to no care for the bottom line. You’ve also got the fact that two pairs of teams from that list figure to be locked up in tight division races for the foreseeable future. And while taking the Jays out of the mix eliminates the divisional competition in Boston’s case, the AL East is still going to be a tight race.
If anything, the knowledge that Price isn’t staying north of the border increases the urgency for the remaining teams to pitch him on a sense of comfort, something the longtime Ray seems to value quite highly. Given his fun-loving attitude, a reunion with Joe Maddon seems to be the perfect fit. Price understands the significance associated with winning in Chicago and he no doubt saw how the Cubs broke out this year under his old skipper. But is that something he’s willing to give up tens of millions of dollars for? Doubtful.
Boston may be willing to spend the most money, but is that environment one in which Price feels he can thrive? Making decisions based primarily on the amount of the paycheck you’re drawing can have less-than-favorable results, something Robbie Cano and the Mariners are discovering. The Dodgers could also pony up a boatload of money, particularly with Zack Greinke opting out. But is price a Hollywood kind of guy? And would be happy with not even being the best left-hander in the rotation?
The Cardinals might see a big splash like this as a way to keep a tight grip on a division that may be starting to slip through their fingers. The Giants have the same motivation and might see 2016 as their chance to maintain the every-other-year World Series pace they’ve set for themselves. Since motivation to win is not in short supply, neither is Price’s ability to extract beaucoup bucks.
While I was big on the Cubs’ desire and ability to pursue Price, this is starting to get the feel of an auction that will push people out of their comfort zones. And while I’m not sure they’ve had a specific limit imposed, I just can’t see Theo Epstein having carte blanche to hand over a chèque en blanc. Ceteris paribus, Price probably chooses to play baseball in Chicago next season. But life is neither ceteris nor paribus (sorry, Latin grammarians), so I think he’ll end up with a bigger payday elsewhere.
And that’s not a bad thing. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I salivate at the thought of rolling this guy out there every fifth day and adding his personality to a clubhouse already bursting with them. But sometimes it just doesn’t work out. If it sounds a bit as though I’m bracing myself, or perhaps even attempting a little reverse karmic influence, that’s probably because I am. But Price is a pretty good dude and I’ll be happy for him no matter where he ends up.
Well, as long as he doesn’t end up in St. Louis. Or LA or San Fran. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be very happy seeing him in Boston either.