Blue Jays: It’s worth calling L.A. to ask about the Price
Former Blue Jays David Price has been told he’ll pitch out of the bullpen for the Dodgers, and that might enough reason for Ross Atknis to ask about his potential availability.
With the Dodgers having a stacked rotation that includes Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Trevor Bauer, Julio Urias, and Dustin May, the World Series champs decided that their best set up is with Price in the bullpen. It’s something the veteran said he’d be okay with if it happened, but I’m willing to bet he’d much prefer to remain as a starter, and it just so happens the Blue Jays still have a need in their rotation.
It’s probably a little tough to predict what Price will do in 2021 after opting out of the 2020 campaign. He still had solid production over 22 starts in 2019, finishing 7-5 with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.314 WHIP over 107.1 innings, and was even better in 2018 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.142 WHIP over 30 starts. In some ways, a season off in 2020 might have been a good thing for the 35-year-old with over 2000 big league innings on his resume.
Even though he won’t be pitching at the Cy Young standard he set earlier in his career, I have a hard time picturing him being any worse than the #2-3 starter in the Blue Jays rotation right now. Beyond the ace in Hyun Jin Ryu, there are just as many or more question marks about Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Tanner Roark, Ross Stripling, and Nate Pearson. There’s upside in what the Blue Jays already have, especially when you add in the likes of Anthony Kay, Trent Thornton, and others, but some stability would be a great thing.
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The biggest question about whether this is feasible or not would be the cost. According to spotrac.com, Price will make 32 million in 2021 and the same in 2022, and that’s obviously not a cost the Jays are going to cover. Fortunately the Red Sox have to pick up half of that tab as part of the blockbuster deal they made while also sending Mookie Betts to L.A., which brings it down to 16 million per year. I’m not sure if the Dodgers care about money much at all, but it’s entirely possible that they’d send some cash to Toronto if they could get Price off the books, especially in advance of this winter when Clayton Kershaw becomes a free agent. If they’d send 6-8 million along too, would the Blue Jays consider picking up 8-10 million to acquire the veteran left-hander?
It would be a bit of a gamble after Price didn’t pitch last season, but it might be a worthwhile roll of the dice. That said, there’s no guarantee that the Dodgers are looking to make a deal right now, even with Tony Gonsolin also waiting in the wings of the rotation. The depth could be important if they’re looking to repeat, and Price has had success out of the bullpen at other points in his career as well, so I’m sure he’ll be a solid weapon.
For the Blue Jays and Ross Atkins, it likely come down to whether or not they want to spend any available payroll now, or if they’d rather wait to see what they have and what they need this summer ahead of the trade deadline. That strategy has been the assumed route since they passed on the opportunity to back back Taijuan Walker at a possible discount, or pursue other late-signed veterans like Jame Paxton and Jake Odorizzi.
However, you always have to keep your eyes open for an opportunity, and if the Dodgers are motivated to move Price, it’s a situation that the Blue Jays should keep an eye on.