Everyone knew David Price would be a big-ticket item this winter, but not everyone expected that ticket to be record-setting.
Price was awarded the biggest contract ever for a pitcher Tuesday when the Red Sox agreed to pay the southpaw $217 million over seven years, according to a report from Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe. The agreement is pending a physical and isn't expected to be formally announced until Friday.
The reported deal is just $2 million more than Clayton Kershaw's seven-year, $215 million extension signed in January 2014. The $217 million total value of the deal is the eighth-largest contract ever handed out by a team.
That kind of money is what ultimately led him to the Red Sox, a source told USA Today's Bob Nightengale. Nightengale said the Cardinals were the runners-up and the team that Price expected to sign with when he woke up Tuesday. Instead, the Cardinals refused to exceed $200 million despite being willing to offer Price seven years, and the Red Sox swooped in with an offer the 30-year-old couldn't refuse.
An important aspect of the deal could be a reported opt-out clause for Price after three years. If he performs well in the early years of the contract, Price could be in for another monster payday in 2019.
And there's certainly reason to believe he will be worth the money. Price finished second in Cy Young voting this year after registering an AL-best 2.45 ERA with 225 strikeouts in 220 1/3 innings. Postseason struggles aside, Price has consistently been one of the elite starters in all of baseball since 2010. The Red Sox hope he can lead them back to a World Series in 2016.
Greinke Decision Looming
Price's exit from the free agent scene sets up Zack Greinke as the next high-priced domino to fall.
Two questions exist with Greinke's free agency: will he choose the Dodgers or the Giants, and the Dodgers could possibly be offering how much?? According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, a major league executive heard the Dodgers may give Greinke $210 million over six years, an average annual value of $35 million. That number would be tough for the Giants, or any club, to match.
A separate report by ESPN's Jayson Stark said the length of his contract could depend on its AAV, with Greinke either looking for a six-year deal with a higher AAV than Price got or a five-year deal for less money but at an even higher AAV.
The first decision is expected soon, after which the market will be headlined by Johnny Cueto. Hisashi Iwakuma, Wei-Yin Chen, Ian Kennedy, Jeff Samardzija, Yovani Gallardo, Mike Leake and John Lackey are among the next tier of starters to be had for pitching-needy clubs.
O's Acquire Trumbo
The Orioles nabbed some cheap power on Wednesday.
The O's sent Steve Clevenger to the Mariners for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser, a deal that provides the club with a first base option should they lose Chris Davis to free agency. Trumbo, who is arbitration-eligible for the last time this winter, is projected to make $9.1 million in 2016, according to MLBTradeRumors.com's arbitration projections.
In Trumbo, the O's get a hitter who has averaged 31 home runs and 96 RBI per 162-game season in his six-year career. By those standards, Trumbo had a down year in 2015, hitting 22 homers with 64 RBI in 142 games.
“I just think his presence and his proven RBI and power capabilities are going to add a lot to our ballclub," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "And we’re going to continue to shape our lineup and the rest of our ballclub throughout the offseason, but we certainly like the addition of Mark today to help our team and also we like the young left-handed pitcher we got.”
The move appears to be something just short of a salary dump for the M's, who likely weren't going to tender Trumbo a contract before Wednesday night's non-tender deadline. Clevenger is a 29-year-old catcher who hit .287/.314/.526 in 30 games with the O's last season but who owns a .228/.280/.327 career line. He'll pair with Chris Iannetta behind the dish for Seattle.
The aforementioned non-tender deadline brought about some interesting moves.
The most noteworthy was the Marlins' decision not to tender a contract to Henderson Alvarez, the team's Opening Day starter in 2015. Alvarez was an All-Star as recently as 2014 but had season-ending shoulder surgery in July, a procedure from which he's still recovering. Before his season ended, Alvarez had a disappointing 6.45 ERA in four starts.
But Alvarez, just 25 years old, was 12-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 2014 and was set to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million this upcoming season, his second year of arbitration eligibility. Instead, all teams will have a shot at buying low on the righty in hopes that his shoulder will allow him to return to his former self sooner than later.
Another notable non-tender due largely to injury was former all-everything closer Greg Holland. The right-hander will miss the entire 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in September, but he'll likely draw interest from teams willing to give him a multi-year deal in hopes he'll be healthy in 2017.
Two power hitters were let go by their clubs, as the Astros non-tendered Chris Carter while the Pirates opted not to extend an offer to Pedro Alvarez. Both players possess big power and equally big holes in their swings, but both should find suitors on the open market. Tyler Flowers, Neftali Feliz and Steve Cishek were among the other players not tendered contracts by their clubs ahead of the deadline.
Others still worked out deals to avoid the arbitration process. Justin Smoak and the Blue Jays struck a one-year, $3.9 million deal; Peter Bourjos, who was claimed off waivers by the Phillies just hours earlier, agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract; Clayton Kershaw's personal catcher A.J. Ellis will be staying put on a one-year, $4.5 million pact; and recently acquired Rex Brothers and the Cubs came to a one-year, $1.42 million agreement.
Quick Hits: Also avoiding arbitration were: Nolan Reimold; Vance Worley; Clayton Richard; Collin Cowgill, whom the Indians acquired from the Angels in a trade Wednesday; Jordan Lyles; Andrew Lambo; Eric Sogard; Felix Doubront; Sam Fuld; Marc Rzepczynski; Andres Blanco; Jose Lobaton; and Tyler Moore ... Other non-tenders of interest included Mike Minor, Ike Davis, Yusmeiro Petit, Al Alburquerque, Jacob Turner, Hector Sanchez, Elian Herrera, Aaron Crow, and David Lough, among others ... Rather than non-tendering them, the Padres shipped Yonder Alonso and Rzepczynski to the Athletics in exchange for Drew Pomeranz and Jose Torres. With Davis gone, Alonso should be in line to be the A's starting first baseman, while Pomeranz will likely be given an opportunity to start for the Padres ... The Red Sox made official their two-year, $13 million deal with outfielder Chris Young ... Per Baseball America, Cuban second baseman Jose Miguel Fernandez has left his home country with the intent of signing with a major league team. The 27-year-old was BA's No. 3 player still in Cuba when they compiled the list in April. He'll need to establish residency in another country before being declared a free agent, a task that BA doesn't think will happen ahead of the start of the 2016 season ... Asdrubal Cabrera and the Rays are "unlikely" to agree to a follow-up deal for the shortstop, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo. Cabrera batted .265/.315/.430 with 15 homers last year and is likely looking to parlay that into a multi-year deal somewhere ... The list of teams not interested in Ben Zobrist is shorter than the list of teams in the running for his services. He could have a new home, and likely a new four-year deal, by the end of next week's Winter Meetings.