Who’s the better catch? David Price or Chris Sale?
When David Price signed a 7 year $217 million dollar deal, Red Sox fans were ecstatic and were expecting the best available arm to do a lot in Beantown. 2016 however, was a bit of a letdown to say the least as Price got this contract because of what he was able to do for the Tigers and more importantly because of what he accomplished with the Blue Jays in a decently sized sample. He combined to go 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA to go along with 225 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings pitched.
His numbers in Toronto were what drew praise as they were nothing short of impressive. Price went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA and struck out 87 in 74 1/3 innings pitched. In 2016, Price went 17-9 with a 3.99 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 230 innings. Price’s ERA went up over 1 ½ times in a one year span. It’d be a farce if we said we expected these numbers. Strikeout numbers were there but so were the home run numbers which need to drastically be reduced in 2017.
Chris Sale is 4 years younger and has just as much to prove. Yes, his contract is a lot more team friendly in comparison to the monster deal Price got. Sale wants to stay in Boston long term and given what the Sox gave up to get him, I hope he stays for the rest of his career. I think any player who excels at his position would love the opportunity to play in Boston not only because of the rich history but because you know that you’re team is going to contend year in and year out.
With all that said however, locking up two big league Ace’s will cost the Sox dearly especially with Xander Bogaerts, JBJ, & more importantly Mookie Betts due major contracts when they free agents and no longer arbitration eligible starting in 2020. Let’s go over some facts. Price will be 37 when his contract is up in 2022 unless, he opts out in 2018. If that were to happen, it’d create all sorts of interesting scenarios for the Sox. Porcello is off the books after 2019 and Sale the same after both team options are picked up. This makes 2019 and 2020 very interesting years in Boston. Dave Dombrowski will no doubt have his work cut out for him.
Chris Sale will be 30 at that time and will no doubt hit paydirt. Could the Sox manage to keep Porcello & Sale while Price is still in Beantown? It’ll be extremely difficult to see this scenario work out but in Boston it’s doable. Would the Sox be willing to hypothetically go over the salary cap to keep all three front line starters in Boston? I think so. I don’t see the Sox sending any of them away for prospects since they’re trying to win another World Series over the next couple years. This is of course only addressing our pitching situation, we haven’t even figured out what’s to come in Boston regarding the offense that’s excelling and haven’t even hit their prime yet. Keeping all of the players will undoubtedly be difficult and almost impossible.
If David Price is unable to live up to his contract with a year or two left, it’s easy to see the Sox sucking up some of the damage and sending him on his way getting back something in return even if it’s a short term rental. That would ease the situation of figuring out what to do with Porcello & Sale. The Sox would still theoretically have Eduardo Rodriguez as well. The jury is still out on Drew Pomeranz and Joe Kelly but with both nearly 30 I’m not holding my breath.
Pomeranz has started spring training in 2017 with several setbacks which is concerning but not surprising after coming to Boston damaged no thanks to Padres Management for failing to reveal medical records. Pomeranz was a disaster last season. The Sox made some moves that ended up backfiring as is the case for all teams. We’ve been fortunate to land Sale and Price but at the benefit of having a deep wallet and cost of sending top prospects on their way. Of course any GM would rather have proven talent than unsure guys who could end up being All Stars in the future. If they’re highly touted, a GM would take a shot on them since you never know if you’re trading for the next Ted Williams or Pedro Martinez type.
The Red Sox are no doubt in the “all out win mode” right now. We’ve got great pieces to play with but it does beg the question, if the Sox could do it all over again, would they have parted ways with John Lackey after his newfound stride in both St. Louis and Chicago? Would the Sox really have given up top pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza for a damaged Drew Pomeranz? Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. The Sox were dealt an unfortunate blow and will have to make adjustments over the next coming years. One can only hope that once Pomeranz is healthy, he finds his groove and can do what Rick Porcello did after an iffy start in Boston.
So, we’re back to Price and Sale? Personally I’ve always had a big thing for Sale. He’s younger, more durable and more likely to go the distance sparing the bullpen during the course of the season. Sale had 6 complete games in 2016 while David Price had 5 combined over 2015 & 2016. In a perfect world, you want to have a 20 game-winner on your squad. The Sox have 3 with the potential to do just that. We’ll have to wait and see how Sale does in Boston.
We’re hoping for the games in which he pitched both in ’14 & ‘16 when he was lights out. We’ll try and forget about his 7 runs on 12 hits shelling back in ‘15. Price & Sale both are lefties and have to deal with the troublesome Monster in left field. With Price’s problems I’m sure some people out there were thinking, “Oh God! Not another lefty!” The difference? Chris Sale is an elite starter that isn’t just a lefty. He’ll show up in 2017 and with that, we’ll have to wait and see what they do. One thing is for sure, I’ll be pleasantly waiting for David Price to pull a Rick Porcello and bounce back in 2017.
Photo Credit: Barry Chin – Globe Staff
Photo Credit: Wikipedia – David Price