David Price is a Toronto Blue Jay
This is simply amazing. Alex Anthopoulos has struck again, acquiring one of the best starters in the game, and one who will undoubtedly help the Blue Jays down the stretch. After adding Troy Tulowitzki, he’s added the pitcher the Jays have needed for an extended period of time, and albeit a rental (assuming he tests the market), he’s snatched an elite player in David Price. The Jays are going all in.
The package given up is one very similar to that of the package that the Royals gave up to acquire Johnny Cueto. Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt, who were ranked #1, #11, and #18 on Toronto’s MLB.com updated top 30 rankings.
I won’t get into the package given too much because that would take a further examination in its own post, but at a first glance, it’s outstanding. Yes, they gave up three good arms, and in Norris, they gave up arguably their top prospect, but they got David Price. It was already expected that they would have to part with a top prospect to acquire an ace. Obviously, projecting the future success of prospects is a difficult task, but I believe Norris will become an everyday MLB starter, but for Price during the playoff stretch, it’s 100% worth it.
Before the deal was final, Anthony Alford’s name was flying around as a potential piece of the deal. Including Alford or Dalton Pompey, the Jays two best positional prospects, in the deal would have made it harder to swallow, but the fact that the Jays didn’t have to send another top prospect along with Norris is fantastic work from Anthopoulos.
Boyd seemed to be expendable, and it seems like a good time to sell high on his Minor League success. Despite the fact the Jays have traded six pitching prospects in these two big deals, they still have a number of young arms moving forward, with Boyd being near the back of the list despite continued success in 2015.
Giving up substantial talent and control for a rental is obviously very risky, but for a talent like Price during a playoff stretch for a playoff starved franchise, you do it. It’s not everyday you get a chance to add pitcher of this caliber, whether it’s for 13 starts or not.
Price’s career success is obvious, accumulating a 3.13 ERA, 3.24 FIP, and a 29.5 fWAR through 1367.1 IP. His walk rate began to become elite in the 2013 season with the Rays, as he put up a 1.30 BB/9, by far the best of his career at that point. Last season, split between the Rays and Tigers, he put up a 1.38 mark, combined with his career high 9.82 K/9.
This season, the walk rate is up, and the strikeout rate is down, but just slightly, as those marks sit at 1.79 and 8.51 respectively. The walk rate that has risen ever so slightly can be attributed to his April, when he walked 10 batters in 31 IP, very un-Price like. The lower K rate can be attributed to his May, when he struck out 34 batters in 43 IP (still put up a 2.49 ERA). Again, it was an anomaly. In June and July, he’s struck out 75 batters and walked 11 in 71.2 IP, while putting up ERA’s of 2.02 and 2.25. He’s been dominant, there’s nothing to worry about there with those particular numbers.
His velocity is outstanding, actually going up to 94.79 from his 2014 mark of 94.21 on his four-seam fastball. He also uses a sinker 22% of the time and mixes a cutter 12% of the time, and he’s added velo to both offerings. He’s been able to notch a career high whiff % on his change, coming in at 21.08%, and he throws a sharp curve as well, using it about 9% of the time. His arsenal is deep and powerful, with the ability to get weak contact and get batters to miss on a consistent basis.
I could go on and on about how great Price is, his numbers and his stuff are legit ace-worthy. Furthermore, he eats tons of innings. Last year he threw 248.1 IP, and he’s already at 146 with 13 starts remaining, so he should end up in the same region again, but this time with the Jays.
Obviously, as a member of the AL East with the Rays for a number of years, his experience within this division is heavy. We all saw him dominate the Jays over and over again, going 16-2 with a 2.42 ERA through 21 starts. Against Baltimore: 18 starts, 2.72 ERA, 115.1 IP, 112 K, 7 HR, 30 BB. Against the Red Sox: 23 starts, 3.08 ERA, 152 IP, 139 K, 16 HR, 37 BB. Against New York: 27 appearances: 4.41 ERA, 165.1 IP. 146 K, 19 HR, 57 BB. Against Tampa Bay: 2 starts, 3.21 ERA, 14 IP, 13 K, 2 HR, 2 BB. Clearly, he has tons of experience, and success in these ballparks and against many of these hitters. You’d figure the AL East experience was a factor when Anthopoulos chose to target Price.
With a projected 13 starts remaining for Price, it will be interesting to see who he ultimately ends up facing. Below is a projection of where those starts will fall at this point, assuming he makes the start this upcoming Sunday against the Royals. This could ultimately change due to injury or unforeseen circumstances, but here’s a list of how it lines up now.
Aug 2: vs. Royals
Aug 7: @ Yankees
Aug 12: vs. Athletics
Aug 18: @ Phillies
Aug 23: @ Angels
Aug 28: vs. Detroit
Sept 2: vs. Indians
Sept 7: @ Red Sox
Sept 12: @ Yankees
Sept 17: @ Braves
Sept 22: vs. Yankees
Sept 27: vs. Rays
Oct 2: @ Rays
Six of his potential 13 starts come against AL East opponents, and three against the Yankees, which is extremely important. The Jays have 13 games against the Yankees, and being 7 back at the moment, all of them will be very important if they want a shot at catching them. Price has the stuff and experience to lead this team into pressure packed games down the stretch; his starts against the Yankees in particular, and all of his starts will be of the upmost importance. There’s a very small number of pitchers you want to give that responsibility to, and Price is absolutely one of those arms.
Another thing to note is his playoff experience, something that is definitely lacking in the Jays rotation. His playoff numbers aren’t eye-popping by any means, but the experience is valuable nonetheless. Through 40 IP, including 5 starts and 5 appearances out of the bullpen, he’s put up a 4.50 ERA, with 36 K’s and 9 BB’s. His most recent start, which came last year in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles, he went: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
All in all, Price is an absolutely fantastic addition to the team, that is abundantly clear. The value of adding him down the stretch is incredible, and for us fans, there hasn’t been a better time to be a Blue Jays fan in a very long time. Price has the stuff, the experience, the pedigree, the intangibles. He’s got it all.
One final note, Anthopoulos needs to be praised for his work here. If the Jays don’t make the playoffs, it will not fall on him. Along with Price, he’s added Josh Donaldson, Tulowitzki, Devon Travis, and Russell Martin for this 2015 ball club. Every team in the major leagues would love to have these players on their team, and Anthopoulos has been the one to add them. Outstanding.
All we have left to do as fans, is sit back and enjoy.