NOTE: There is no way anyone can tell what would actually happen to the Red Sox and David Price, so these educated guesses are based on rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com
On December 4, 2015, the Boston Red Sox signed left-hander David Price to a seven-year, $214 million contract. This was supposed to be a sign to the league that the Red Sox wanted to compete, but it didn’t work out right away. Here’s what would happen if the signing didn’t happen at all.
Where Does David Price Go?
David Price was one of the top free agents of the 2015-2016 offseason. He was seeking a large contract (which he ended up getting). This means that only the big market teams would be able to compete for his services. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants had interest in Price, but I have him going somewhere else.
The rumor was that the St. Louis Cardinals were about to sign Price, but the Sox simply outbid them. David Price is a St. Louis Cardinal.
Who do the Red Sox Sign Instead?
(Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group)
The free agent class of 2015-2016 was full of talent. Since the Red Sox were obviously willing to spend the money, they get someone else.
Originally, Johnny Cueto, after winning a World Series with the Royals in 2015, signed a six-year, $130 million deal with the Giants. In this reality, the Red Sox outbid the Giants and they sign him to a six-year, $180 million deal. There is no way that Brian Sabean, GM of the Giants, matches that offer.
The Red Sox still trade for Craig Kimbrel and Carson Smith.
2016 Red Sox – First Half
The Red Sox, rolling out a rotation of Johnny Cueto, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, Clay Buchholz, and Steven Wright, look to compete this year. They have a great start to the year, since the pitching perfoms well.
Johnny Cueto, in real life, goes 13-1 with a 2.47 ERA in the first half with the Giants, but to be fair, we’ll say the ERA goes up a bit due to the change in leagues. Steven Wright pitches well too, going 10-5 with a 2.68 ERA.
It’s not just the pitching that does well. The Red Sox, as a team, average 5.63 runs in the first half of the season (87 games). There are many Red Sox players in the annual All-Star game too, with Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., David Ortiz, Craig Kimbrel, and Johnny Cueto making appearances.
2016 Trade Deadline
The Red Sox originally only made one important trade at the deadline, trading for 2016 All-Star Drew Pomeranz, and they still do. Lackluster performances from Clay Buchholz and Eduardo Rodriguez force the Red Sox to add starting pitching depth.
2016 Season – Second Half & Postseason
The Red Sox cruise along the second half, sailing to an AL East Division title, and win 95 games instead of 93.
Around the league, the Giants miss the playoffs because of the loss of Johnny Cueto. Since they added David Price, the St. Louis Cardinals take that last Wild Card spot and play the Mets in the one-game playoff.
As for the Red Sox, instead of winning zero games, we win one game. Johnny Cueto is a proven postseason performer, and he guides the Red Sox to their only playoff win of 2016.
The Cubs still win the World Series against the Indians in seven games.
The Red Sox this offseason have the daunting task of finding someone to fill in the shoes of David Ortiz. In real life, all they did was sign Mitch Moreland, and that stays the same. The Chris Sale and Tyler Thornburg trades still happen because of the lack of pitching success in the postseason.
Around the league, things stay mostly the same, except the Giants sign Jeremy Hellickson to add pitching depth. Dexter Fowler still signs with the Cardinals, and all the free agents who stayed (Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen, etc.) still stay with their respective teams.
2017 Boston Red Sox
Johnny Cueto deals with injuries and just plain ineffectiveness during the season (sounds familiar?). And yes, David Price also still deals with injuries. This season plays out the same way in this reality, with the Red Sox winning the division in the second-to-last game of the season.
Around the league, the Giants still struggle, and the Cardinals miss the playoffs (as they did in real life) because of injuries. Playoffs teams all stay the same.
Only one difference: the Red Sox win zero games in the postseason. The one game they won (Game 3) relied heavily on David Price’s relief performance, and without that, they don’t win that game. Sure, Cueto is healthy in time for the playoffs, but it’s hard to see him performing well in the playoffs with his struggles in the regular season.
Everything else stays the same.
Nothing really changes if the Red Sox don’t sign David Price in 2015. It was inevitable that the Sox were going to spend big money on a starter. Of course, both Cueto and Price are still under the contracts they signed in 2015, and they still can prove their worth.
Before you judge the David Price signing, remind yourself that there is still time for him to prove himself. Yes, you could argue that all of the off-the-field issues would disappear, but how would you really know that? How can anyone tell how Johnny Cueto would react to the Boston media?
The Red Sox still have David Price on their payroll. If you are a true Red Sox fan, you will support him. Please give him a chance to prove his worth.