Red Sox

Maybe David Price isn't as untradeable as we think for Red Sox

Maybe David Price isn't as untradeable as we think for Red Sox

David Price has caused no shortage of headaches with the Red Sox, from blowing up at Dennis Eckersley to tweeting cryptically about the White House visit to making no effort to hide his disdain for "Manager John" Farrell.

But Price also delivered when it mattered most, during the 2018 postseason, when he led the charge to a title as the de facto postseason MVP.

He seemed positioned to maintain that momentum before a wrist cyst got in the way. Though his final 2019 numbers were mediocre — 7-5, 4.28 ERA — he struck out a career-best 10.7 per nine innings and was the team's best pitcher in the first half, when he went 7-2 with a 3.24 ERA.

Because we tend to focus on the negative around here (not me, though, I only see sunshine), we often judge Price for his faults. He's no longer a 200-inning pitcher. His elbow could blow. He considers himself a great teammate, but he consistently brings negativity into the clubhouse, which multiple rival executives have noted warily.

He's too expensive. He hasn't made an All-Star team or earned a Cy Young vote since 2015. He's past his prime.

It's hard to read the preceding paragraph and think there'd be a market for him this winter, especially since he's due $96 million over the next three years. But focusing on those negatives obscures some positives that other franchises might consider.

Price is a proven ace who has won one Cy Young Award and finished second twice. He's a classic change-of-scenery candidate after four tumultuous seasons in Boston, and a club in a friendlier market — like, say, St. Louis — could make a case for reinvigorating him. For all of the concerns over his health, he has thrown nearly 400 innings since avoiding Tommy John surgery in 2017.

And most importantly, with seemingly every team in baseball on the hunt for starting pitching, why should Price be immovable, when only last year a 36-year-old Robinson Cano with five years and $120 million remaining on his contract was not?

If the Red Sox want to drop below the $208 million luxury tax threshold, removing as much of Price's $32 million salary as possible would be one way to do it that doesn't involve giving away a former MVP in his prime — jettisoning Price would open a clearer path to keeping Mookie Betts for one more season, anyway.

So what is Price worth? As free agency cranks into gear, we're actually seeing some parameters forming in the starting pitcher market. Four starters have signed contracts with average annual values of at least $10 million, from Kyle Gibson (3 years, $30 million with Rangers) to Zack Wheeler, who just agreed to leave the Mets for a five-year, $118 million deal with the Phillies. Meanwhile, righty Jake Odorizzi accepted a one-year qualifying offer from the Twins for $17.8 million, while veteran left-hander Cole Hamels inked a one-year, $18 million contract with the Braves.

The two biggest fish remain unsigned in Houston's Gerrit Cole and Washington's Stephen Strasburg, both of whom will each command nine-figure deals. Former World Series hero Madison Bumgarner, defending NL ERA champ Hyun-Jin Ryu, and possibly ex-Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel will probably earn $15-$20 million annually. And then after that the drop in talent is pretty steep, to pitchers like Rick Porcello, Michael Pineda, and Tanner Roark.

Viewed through that lens, suddenly Price feels like … an asset? The Phillies will pay Wheeler nearly $24 million a year, starting with his age-30 season, more on projection than performance. His lifetime ERA+ is 100, which is the definition of average. And whatever injury concerns exist about Price, it's worth noting that Wheeler missed all of 2015 and 2016 to Tommy John surgery.

Were Price a free agent this winter, he'd probably be in the Bumgarner/Ryu camp, a clear notch below Cole and Strasburg, but still desirable. It's hard to say what he'd earn, but even with his injury concerns, an AAV of $18 million feels like the floor. The fact that he's only signed for three more years maybe bumps that hypothetical number to $20 million annually. If the Red Sox ate $36 million, could they find a market for Price at three years and $60 million?

It doesn't sound so crazy to me, especially once you stop fixating on the negatives.

MLB's Top 10 free agent starting pitchers>>>>>

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Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling on Hall of Fame: 'If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right'

Curt Schilling is in his eighth year of eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Is this the year that he'll finally get in?

The former pitcher spent 20 years in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Boston Red Sox. He went 216-146 record, a 3.46 ERA, and 3,116 strikeouts (good for 15th most all-time) in his storied career. 

It's his postseason dominance (11-2, 2.23 ERA) that elevates Schilling's Hall candidacy. He's a three-time World Series winner, two of which came with the Red Sox, was a co-Series MVP with Randy Johnson in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and was named an All-Star six times.

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Despite his numbers, Schilling hasn't gotten into the Hall yet. While he may be inching closer to making the cut, he isn't counting on getting in with the 2020 class.

"I don't think I'm going to make it this year," Schilling told MLB Network's Bob Costas in a recent interview. "The trend has usually been that players will drop a certain amount of percentage between the public and the private ballots. And I don't think I'm high enough above that 75 [percent needed for election] for the tail-off not to get me."

Though Schilling doesn't think he'll get in, he's not worrying about it too much. And he's focusing on the fact that there are plenty of great players who never made the Hall of Fame, including another former Red Sox ace.

"There are also some pretty good people who aren't in the Hall of Fame," Schilling said. "If I'm outside the Hall of Fame with Luis Tiant, I'm all right."

Schilling does have a good point. There are plenty of great, deserving players that haven't made the cut for the Hall of Fame. He still has three more chances to get in, so perhaps his time will come.

And speaking of Tiant, there surely is a case for him to be a Hall of Famer. He went 229-172 with a 3.30 ERA in a 19-year career and also struck out 2,416 batters. Had the Red Sox gotten him a ring in 1975, perhaps he would've had a stronger case to get in.

Red Sox add LHP Matt Hall via trade with Tigers, designate Travis Lakins for assignment

Red Sox add LHP Matt Hall via trade with Tigers, designate Travis Lakins for assignment

The Boston Red Sox made their second trade of the week Friday.

The Sox acquired left-handed reliever Matt Hall from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for minor league catcher Jhon Nunez.

Hall appeared in 21 games for the Tigers the past two seasons. He was 0-1 with a 9.48 ERA, 32 strikeouts, 18 walks and a 2.07 WHIP in 31 1/3 innings in that span. Hall made his major league debut for Detroit in 2018.

To make room for Hall on the team's 40-man roster, the team designated right-handed pitcher Travis Lakins for assignment, per Jen McCaffrey of The Athletic.

Lakins, 25, made his major league debut in 2019 and logged 16 appearances for the Red Sox. He went 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA, 18 strikeouts, 10 walks and a 1.41 WHIP in 23 1/3 innings of work.

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On Wednesday, the Red Sox traded first baseman/outfielder Sam Travis to the Texas Rangers in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeffrey Springs, while also designating lefty pitcher Bobby Poyner for assignment.