Red Sox get their ace: Boston to sign David Price to $217M deal

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

As expected, the Red Sox have spent big for a free agent ace. According to multiple reports, the BoSox and David Price have agreed to a seven-year contract worth $217M. He gets an opt-out after year three, which is par for the course these days. All huge money deals include an opt-out. The contract is still pending a physical which will happen later this week.

At $217M, this is the largest pitching contract in history, narrowly edging out Clayton Kershaw’s $215M pact. It’s the eighth largest contract ever, behind Giancarlo Stanton ($325M), Alex Rodriguez ($275M and $252M), Miguel Cabrera ($248M), Robinson Cano ($240M), Albert Pujols ($240M), and Joey Votto ($225M). Hey, you don’t bring in Dave Dombrowski to run your baseball operations to not spend money and trade prospects.

As for the Yankees, this doesn’t really affect anything other than having to compete against Price and the Red Sox going forward. New York wasn’t in the hunt for Price — the Cubs, Giants, Cardinals, and Dodgers were the other teams in the race, reports Jerry Crasnick — because they’re unlikely to spend significant money this offseason. The Yankees only spend what comes off payroll and this year that’s only $20M or so.

Nothing has really changes for the Yankees as far as their offseason plan is concerned. They still could use another starting pitcher, preferably one they control beyond 2017, plus maybe a second baseman and miscellaneous depth pieces. A Brett Gardner or Andrew Miller trade could change things considerably, but right now both are on the roster.

The Competing Alternatives

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

In a vacuum, it’s never a bad thing to go into a season with more than five options to fill out a team’s starting rotation. After all, how many times have we heard the line, “There’s no such thing as too much pitching” thrown about? It’s a cliche that is true; having “too many pitchers” from which to shape a rotation is like having “too much” pizza. But that is only true in a vacuum, not reality. What if it’s too much Pizza Hut/Domino’s/Papa John’s? We could certainly argue that one slice of that “pizza” is already too much. And in baseball reality as opposed to a baseball vacuum, having lots of pitchers doesn’t necessarily mean you have lots of good pitchers. So stand the (potential) 2016 New York Yankees.

Given the end of the 2015 season, the Yankees have no fewer than seven pitchers who could all lay some claim to spots in the starting rotation. Of course, given their contracts, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia aren’t leaving that rotation any time soon. Nathan Eovaldi, returning from injury, impressed in the second half and he’ll likely round out the rotation’s top three. He’ll be followed by the sometimes big Michael Pineda in the fourth spot and Luis Severino, who proved he belonged in the Majors during the second half, will finish out the five. No one, however, makes it through a season with only five starters, so we’ve got to consider Ivan Nova and Adam Warren as other options in the rotation. Every single one of these pitchers has some sort of question mark as we move to 2016.

All of those pitchers, save for Warren and Severino, spent time on the Major League disabled list at some point in 2015 and there’s a good bet that Tanaka, Sabathia, and Pineda hit the DL at some point in 2016 (though you could say this about any pitcher who’s ever picked up a baseball). Aside from that, there’s the performance concern with Eovaldi and Severino. While they certainly shined in the second half, can they repeat it? Eovaldi’s got a whole bunch of innings that don’t look like the ones he compiled after his disaster start in Miami and Severino is still in his early 20’s with big potential, but also big bust potential (stop me if you’ve heard the one about young Yankee starters not living up to their promise with the organization). This is all a roundabout way of saying that the Yankees would be wise to go shopping for a starting pitcher–either by free agency or trade–once the World Series ends. Predicting the trade market is hard and, remember, your trade proposal sucks, so let’s just focus on three free agent starters that I’m sure will be a frequent topic of conversation ’round these parts in the next few weeks: David Price, Jordan Zimmerman, and Jeff Samardzija.

Price is the obvious number one choice here. He’s a big lefty who’s shown he can hack it in the American League for a long time and the Yankees love that. Zimmerman is a big righty who’s thrown no fewer than 195 innings since 2012 and has excellent control. Samardzija, as he has been previously, has already been linked to the Yankees and is a potential reclamation projects, something the Yankees also love.

I hate this. (Elsa/Getty)
Price. (Getty)

In that old, familiar vacuum, Price is the guy the Yankees want, need, and sign; he’s almost too perfect for them not to. But in that old, familiar reality, there are two big roadblocks to price: time and money. It’s highly likely that the front office and/or ownership will view a potential big contract for Price as just another CC Sabathia contract: pretty great at first and then an absolute disaster by the midway point.

With Zimmerman, there’s likely to be a draft pick issue: do they want to give up a draft pick for Not The Best Guy Available? There’s also the fact that Zimmerman will likely demand a huge price tag, which his performance may not live up to. Don’t get me wrong here as Zimmerman is a very good pitcher, but he’s been “up and down” (though all good) in the last few years. He’s got two dominant ones–2012 and 2014–and two seasons that are “only” above average-good (2013, 2015). The Yankees may balk at Zimmerman’s (potential) salary demands if they don’t think he’s capable of being that 2012/2014 guy more often.

Samardzija. (Jason Miller/Getty)
Samardzija. (Jason Miller/Getty)

Then there’s Samardzija. Like Zimmerman, he may have draft pick compensation tied to him. Like Zimmerman, and to a greater extent than Zimmerman, there are most definitely performance concerns with him. After all, he just had his worst professional season in which his strikeout rate dropped 5.1% from the year before and his groundball rate plummeted to below 40%. Despite that, there is a ‘bang for your buck’ factor with Shark if he signs a pillow contract to see him through to the next offseason.

These guys all come with some risk, but we could argue it’s less collective risk than the risk represented by the pitchers currently in the Yankees’ employ. One of them–or any of the other free agents I didn’t list here–is a necessity, though. The 2015 Yankee rotation is not sustainable for 2016, even with great bullpen management  by Joe Girardi. Each of these guys could be the wrong option for the listed reasons, but they could also be the right guy for the listed reason. Though he’s not the best of the bunch, Zimmerman probably represents the best option for the Yankees. He’s more of a sure thing that Samardzija and is likely to be less costly–both in terms of years and money–than David Price.

Ironically enough, though, after all these words, I wouldn’t be surprised if neither of these three guys landed in the Bronx for 2016 and beyond. I might be a touch disappointed, but I wouldn’t necessarily be shocked either. Whether it’s these guys or others, however, the Yankees need to do something to bolster the rotation going forward, even if there are a lot of options already in house. Because you can never have too much pitching.

Trade Deadline Notes: Price, Reyes, Prado, Gyorko, Shields

I hate this. (Elsa/Getty)
I hate this. (Elsa/Getty)

The Yankees swung just one minor deal before the trade deadline ten days ago, landing Dustin Ackley in a three-player swap with the Mariners. The lack of activity was not due to a lack of effort, however. The Yankees were reportedly in on all the available pitchers, starters and relievers, plus some second base candidates. Nothing made sense, I guess. Here are some postmortem trade deadline notes, most via Jon Heyman.

Yanks “shut out” of Price race when Norris was offered

The Yankees tried to acquire David Price before the trade deadline but they and several other teams were “shut out” of the race once the Blue Jays offered lefty Daniel Norris. For what it’s worth Luis Severino and Norris were ranked 17th and 18th, respectively, in Baseball America’s midseason top 50 prospects list a few weeks ago, but that doesn’t mean much. Prospect rankings are subjective as hell and the Tigers could have liked Norris much more than Severino. Could the Yankees have made up the difference by improving the quality of the secondary pieces? Maybe. Doesn’t really matter now. The Tigers seemed to prioritize Norris.

Reyes came up in talks

Most people, myself included, figured the Rockies would flip Jose Reyes after landing him in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, either at the deadline or this coming offseason. Heyman says Colorado did not shop Reyes at the deadline but his name did come up in trade talks, and if the Yankees made a call to get involved in talks for Reyes, “they were very brief.” Reyes hasn’t played second base in more than a decade now and that’s the only place he’d fit with the Yankees. Didi Gregorius has made way too much progress this summer to move him off short. I could definitely see “Reyes to the Yankees?” being a thing all winter.

Yankees checked in on Prado

The Yankees were one of several teams to check in on Martin Prado prior to the trade deadline. They were presumably looking to bring him back to play second base, or at least spend some time there while bouncing around other positions. Prado is under contract at a pricey $11M next season — the Yankees are paying $3M of that — and he’s not having a good season, hitting .268/.310/.351 (82 wRC+) overall, but he still hits lefties (111 wRC+) and is versatile, which is not nothing. You can do worst for your tenth position player. The Marlins seem to have allusions of contending next year and Prado is penciled in as their starting third baseman.

The guy they got and the guy they tried to get. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
The guy they got and the guy they tried to get. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

Yankees planned to platoon Gyorko with Drew

As part of their talks with the Padres about Craig Kimbrel, the Yankees offered to take on at least part of Jedd Gyorko’s albatross contract to facilitate a trade. Had it gone down, their plan was to platoon Gyorko with Stephen Drew at second base. Gyorko, who is owed $33M through 2019, is hitting a miserable .218/.284/.336 (78 wRC+) since signing his extension prior to last season, though he has a 118 wRC+ against lefties during that time, including a 148 wRC+ against southpaws this year. Gyorko is only 26, so I guess there is a chance of a rebound, but gosh, betting that much money on it?

Shields clears trade waivers

As expected, James Shields has passed through trade waivers unclaimed, reports Buster Olney. That’s not surprising. Big salary guys almost always clear trade waivers. His contract is backloaded — Shields made $10M this year and has $21M annually coming to him from 2016-18 — and I think there’s at least a small chance the Padres would have dumped him on the claiming team just to rid themselves of the contract, but no one bit. Shields is having his worst season in a long time (3.75 ERA and 4.22 FIP), and at age 33 with all those innings on his arm, you have to wonder if this is the start of his Sabathia-esque decline. Either way, the Yankees can talk to San Diego about Shields if they want, he’s already cleared waivers. Jack Curry says they’re not interested, for what it’s worth.

Reports: David Price heading to Blue Jays

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays are set to acquire David Price from the Tigers. Top pitching prospect Daniel Norris and top outfield prospect Anthony Alford are part of the package heading back to Detroit. It’s unclear what other players are involved at this point.

The Blue Jays acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago and they haven’t been to the postseason since 1993, so they have every reason to go all-in. GM Alex Anthopoulos is surely feeling the heat. Toronto is seven games back of the Yankees in the AL East — they still have 13 head-to-head games remaining — but only two games back of the second wildcard spot. Their +100 run differential is the best in the AL and second best in MLB.

The Yankees reportedly pursued Price while remaining unwilling to part with their top prospects, Aaron Judge and Luis Severino specifically, meaning they had little chance to acquire the ace left-hander. I think they should have made their top prospects available, particularly Severino, but the Yankees disagreed. I’m just a guy with a blog. What do I know. Price sure would have looked nice in pinstripes though.

With Price, Scott Kazmir, and Johnny Cueto off the board, the best available pitchers are Mike Leake, Yovani Gallardo, and Ian Kennedy. Jeff Samardzija and Hisashi Iwakuma may or may not be available as well. The Yankees need pitching, it’s becoming more obvious with each passing game, so hopefully they reel someone in before the deadline tomorrow. Whoever it is, they won’t be as good as Price.

Update: Alford is not in the trade. The Tigers are getting three lefties: Norris, Matt Boyd, and Jairo Labourt. An equivalent Yankees package would be something like Severino, Bryan Mitchell, and healthy Ian Clarkin. Ballpark estimate, not exact.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Thursday

Price. (Harry How/Getty)
Price. (Harry How/Getty)

We are now just one day away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees have not yet made a move but I expect them to do something by 4pm ET tomorrow. They need pitching — I’m not sure how much more obvious it could be at this point — and a new second baseman sure would be cool too. Don’t be fooled by the six-game lead in the AL East, there are holes on the roster.

Late last night, Cole Hamels was traded to the Rangers in an eight-player deal, taking arguably the best available pitcher off the board. On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday we learned the Tigers are making David Price and their other rental players available, which is significant because Price would look wonderful in pinstripes. We’ll again keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here. Talk about all of ’em in this open thread.

  • 2:50pm ET: Not only do the Yankees not want to trade top prospects, they are hesitant to trade guys like Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell as well. The sense is they will add a reliever to deepen the bullpen. Warren could then be a candidate to return to the rotation. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:47pm ET: The Mariners plan to keep impending free agent Hisashi Iwakuma. He’s a favorite of ownership and they could always re-sign him in the offseason. The Yankees had not been connected to Iwakuma but he seemed like a logical fit. (Masahiro Tanaka‘s teammate in Japan!) [Jeff Passan]
  • 2:23pm ET: The Yankees are “poised to strike” and are in on all the available arms. That … really doesn’t tell us anything new. The Yankees are typically a club that waits until the last minute to make trades, however. The Martin Prado and Stephen Drew deals were announced after the deadline last year.[Ken Rosenthal]
  • 2:01pm ET: The Yankees are on the “periphery” of the Yovani Gallardo race. He is very available and a bunch of teams are in the mix. Gallardo is still scheduled to start against the Yankees tonight. [Heyman]
  • 12:50pm ET: David Price is heading to the Blue Jays for a package of top prospects, including Daniel Norris and Anthony Alford. So scratch him off the list.
  • 12:06pm ET: The Blue Jays appear to be “closing in” on a trade for David Price according to multiple reports. Toronto hasn’t been to the postseason since 1993 and they acquired Troy Tulowitzki a few days ago. The chips are firmly in the middle of the table.
  • 10:07am ET: The Yankees are considering among Mike Leake‘s most likely landing spots at this point. They’re also a candidate to acquire Jeff Samardzija should the surging White Sox decide to move him. Special assistant Jim Hendry drafted the righty when he was Cubs GM and Larry Rothschild was Samardzija’s pitching coach in Chicago for a few years. [Heyman]
  • 9:30am ET: The Yankees are one of four serious contenders for David Price, along with the Dodgers, Giants, and Blue Jays. All four clubs are in talks with the Tigers. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees discussed Dustin Ackley with the Mariners. Ramon Flores and Ben Gamel came up but Seattle wanted more — I believe it was Flores or Gamel, not both — so talks stalled out. For whatever reason the Yankees have been after Ackley for years. [Mark Feinsand]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Wednesday

Samardzija. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Samardzija. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Just three days left now. The 2015 non-waiver trade deadline is this Friday at 4pm ET, and while the Yankees have not yet made any moves, I’m sure they will at some point in the next few days. Pitching is a bit of an issue — I’d rather not see Chris Capuano make another spot start — and second base could use an upgrade as well. Maybe another righty bat too.

On Monday and Tuesday we learned the Yankees are engaged in the pitching market, both starters and relievers. They had conversations with the Reds about Johnny Cueto before he was traded to the Royals, and they were also in the hunt for Ben Zobrist before he joined Cueto in Kansas City. Final offers for Cole Hamels are reportedly due today as well. We’ll keep track of the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here.

  • 7:04pm ET: The Mat Latos trade from earlier is currently on hold because of someone’s medicals. Not necessarily Latos’. So he could, in fact, still be an option for the Yankees. [Wittenmyer]
  • 4:33pm ET: The Yankees will indeed talk to the Tigers about David Price. They remain unwilling to part with top prospects — the Phillies against asked about Aaron Judge and Luis Severino — but I’m sure at least part of that is just posturing. [Heyman]
  • 4:31pm ET: The Phillies had a scout watching Ivan Nova on Monday. The Yankees did discuss Cueto with the Reds during Johnny Cueto talks, so it stands to reason he would be available for Cole Hamels as well. [Mark Feinsand]
  • 3:32pm ET: The Tigers called teams today to tell them they are “rebooting” and willing to listen on David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and others. I certainly expect the Yankees to make a run at Price. [Stark]
  • 2:56pm ET: If the Phillies do indeed trade Cole Hamels, it is unlikely to happen today. Any trade would have to wait until Thursday or even Friday as the Phillies mull over offers. [Jayson Stark]
  • 2:23pm ET: The Padres requested shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo in trade talks about Craig Kimbrel, but the Yankees said no. New York is willing to eat the entire $28M left on Kimbrel’s contract, but they won’t surrender top prospects. [Jon Heyman]
  • 11:24pm ET: Mat Latos is apparently off the board. The Marlins are reportedly trading the right-hander (and others) to the Dodgers for prospects. Earlier this week we heard the Yankees had some interest in Latos. [Gordon Wittenmyer]
  • 9:30am ET: The White Sox still have not given any indication they will trade Jeff Samardzija. They Yankees have had their eye on him for a few weeks now. The ChiSox are now only 3.5 games back of a wildcard spot, so they might hold on to Samardzija and go for it, knowing they’ll get at least a draft pick for him after the season. [Jerry Crasnick]
  • The Reds are fielding offers for Aroldis Chapman but are not devoted to trading him because he’s under team control next season. They moved Cueto because they were going to lose him to free agency. The Yankees are said to be open to adding another high-end reliever. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.

2015 Trade Deadline Open Thread: Tuesday

Price. (Presswire)
Price. (Presswire)

We are now just four days away from the 2015 non-waiver trade deadline. The Yankees stretched their AL East lead to seven games with last night’s winFanGraphs has their postseason odds at 93.8% — but they’re in no position to coast. Ivan Nova left last night’s start with “arm fatigue,” reinforcing the team’s need for pitching help. They could also use a new second baseman and maybe a righty bench bat.

On Monday we learned … well … not much we didn’t already know. The Yankees are in on just about every pitcher, starters and relievers, and they remain interested in Ben Zobrist. Possible bullpen target Tyler Clippard was traded to the Mets as well. Oh, and Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Blue Jays last night. How about that? We’re going to keep track of all the day’s Yankees-related rumors right here, so make sure you check back often. It really feels like a deal could happen at any moment now.

  • 2:31pm ET: Ben Zobrist is heading to the Royals for two pitching prospects. That is really disappointing. He would have been a massive upgrade at second base.
  • 2:21pm ET: The Yankees and Rockies never seriously engaged in Troy Tulowitzki trade talks. The combination of cost (both prospects and dollars) and injury risk was not particularly appealing to the Yankees. [Joel Sherman]
  • 2:10pm ET: The Athletics are “deep” in Ben Zobrist trade talks and he is expected to move soon. It’s unclear where he will end up, but the Yankees have been connected to him for weeks. Zobrist makes a ton of sense for the Bombers and pretty much every other team in MLB. [Jane Lee]
  • 12:29pm ET: The Phillies are asking teams for their “best” offers for Cole Hamels by Wednesday. That makes sense, Hamels is scheduled to pitch Thursday and they probably want to deal him before then. His stock can only go down following the no-hitter. [Jayson Stark]
  • 9:30pm ET: Craig Kimbrel‘s name has indeed popped up in trade talks with the Padres. There was nothing more than speculation connecting the Yankees to Kimbrel prior to this. The Yankees insist they will not trade their top prospects and apparently that stance will have to change to get Kimbrel. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees and several other clubs are “waiting to hear” whether the Tigers will make David Price available. Detroit lost for the seventh time in eleven games since the All-Star break yesterday, though reportedly they’re going to wait a few days before deciding on a course of action. [Buster Olney]

Reminder: Your trade proposal sucks.