As the Boston Red Sox enter what could be a transition period for them, there are ways that the Blue Jays could potentially take advantage of the situation.
Before I even start here, please file this under nothing more than an idea based on speculation alone, with zero substance. I don’t have any tips or rumours to link this to, this is honestly just me thinking out loud. However, I hope you’ll hear me out and give me a chance to explain where my brain is going with this.
As I watched the Boston Red Sox earlier this week, I couldn’t help but shake my head at how quickly things change in the big leagues. It happened with the Blue Jays going from World Series contenders in 2015-16 to a below .500 team soon after, and the Red Sox have been on a similarly disappointing path this year. They’re going to finish above .500, but in a year when they were supposed to defend their World Series title, they’re not even going to make the playoffs.
It happens in a league with this much talent, and the Red Sox find themselves in need of making a few changes, especially because they’d like to get their expensive payroll back below the luxury tax threshold. In order to do that there is almost no chance they can keep this whole group together, even if they wanted to.
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On that note, I got thinking about whether there’s an opportunity for the Blue Jays to take advantage of Boston’s need to shed some salary. My mind went to Mookie Betts first, of course, but with just one year left on his current contract and the near certainty that he’ll test free agency, I don’t think he’s going to be worth the prospect capital it would require to bring him to Toronto. The same goes for J.D. Martinez, who could be a wonderful fit at DH for the Blue Jays as they shift toward being more competitive in the next few years, but I don’t think that’s even a consideration either, as I expect he’ll opt out of his current deal and test free agency as well.
There is one member of the Red Sox that could realistically make some sense for the Blue Jays though, and that comes in the form of an old friend, David Price. I’m sure there are many of you scoffing and even laughing at the mere suggestion, but it’s not as ludicrous as it sounds once you take a good look at the situation.
The 34-year-old Price has three years and 93 million dollars left on his current contract, which is a big chunk of cash. That’s also pretty much the only reason the Red Sox would want to get rid of him though too, as he’s been a solid arm since arriving in Boston, pitching to a 46-28 record and a 3.84 ERA in 98 starts for the team. However, with the Red Sox looking to shave some money from their payroll, I think it’s at least possible they would entertain trading away the 2012 Cy Young award winner.
I’ll admit that the whole idea came from cruising on Twitter yesterday and seeing a post from @CushmanMLB, a well-known Red Sox fan and podcaster named Terry Cushman. The tweet was a prediction that the Red Sox would trade Price over the off-season, which is possible given their payroll situation and Betts’ pending free agency. The part that made me think the Blue Jays could be a fit is Cushman’s suggestion that the Red Sox will not only deal Price, but that they won’t eat any money in order to do it.
Taking on 93 million over three years for a 34-year-old starting pitcher sounds like a crazy idea, but for the Blue Jays right now, I think there’s an argument why it makes at least some sense. Ideally, they would get the Red Sox to eat some of that remaining money, but they could make it work either way because of the lack of contract commitments they have on the books at the moment. With the team built around a core of rookies and minimum-contract players, the Blue Jays should be able to afford to bring in a lot of payroll in the next 3-4 years, if ownership allows for it.
Price would be on the books before guys like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bo Bichette get expensive, and could be the type of established veteran that could make a big impact. There’s a clear need in the rotation, and if all goes according to plan then Price wouldn’t have to be the “ace” he was during his first Blue Jays’ tenure. There should be more payroll room to pursue that, whether the opportunity eventually comes through free agency or from a trade, and I’m very optimistic that Nate Pearson will be pitching at the top of this rotation in a couple of years.
If the Blue Jays were interested in making such a trade, there are a couple of options here. If they were willing to take on most or all of Price’s remaining money owed, I’m willing to bet the Red Sox wouldn’t have a terribly high asking price for the veteran southpaw. However, if the Blue Jays wanted to bring the cost down a bit, they could always send some prospect capital to Boston, although there could be some reluctance to do that with a division rival.
As veterans like Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke pitch well into their thirties, it shouldn’t feel too far-fetched that a guy like Price can keep up the solid production for a few more seasons. There’s a good chance that the Red Sox may be interested in getting his contract off their books, and while someone with Price’s profile might be a better fit a year from now, sometimes acting a year early can make sense. Let’s face it, this young team could be in their potential contention window sooner than the front office thought, and having a guy like Price on the roster will help both on and off the field.
All that said, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I don’t really expect that the Blue Jays will engage the Red Sox for Price, even if they put the veteran on the block. All I’m saying is, there’s a reasonable arguable that they should be interested if the opportunity happened to come up.