Growing The David Price Brand
Despite media reports that suggested he was happy in Toronto and willing to stay there, David Price, whose signing of a 7-year, $217 million contract with the Red Sox was made official on Friday, had no intentions of returning to Toronto – unless they were willing to be the highest bidder. He knew it, the Blue Jays knew it, and most of baseball did, too. The only ones who appear to have not known this were Blue Jays fans.
After a half season of full houses, record merchandise sales and television ratings, many Blue Jays followers (particularly those who were elbowing for space aboard the team’s crowded bandwagon) thought that the club was now in the same financial stratosphere as the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, and Dodgers, but the fact that they did not even make Price an offer shows that the higher-ups at Rogers Communications Inc, owners of the team, stadium, and network that telecasts their games, felt that the commitment to Price would hamstring the club in the future.
The media-savvy Price presents a fun-loving, easygoing nature, especially on social media. Athletes have a vested interest in presenting a positive media profile, and few are as adept at is as Price is. Reports (none from him, of course, but likely leaked with his blessing) after the season ended that suggested that Price was extremely happy here sent Jays fans into a frenzy. The truth, of course, is that while he no doubt at least hoped Toronto would be a bidder for his services, Price’s bags were all but packed after the Blue Jays season ended in Kansas City. Today’s elite players are multi-millionaires, and the one thing they share in common with multi-millionaires from the business world is that one of their primary objectives is to make even more millions. Players have long since stopped living in the cities they play in year-round (the last one to make his home in Toronto was Rick Bosetti in the late 70s), so hometown discounts are not the norm – in fact, Price had an obligation to his fellow union members to continue to drive the cost of doing business up, and there’s no doubt that Zack Greinke owes Price a debt for the mind-boggling contract he just signed with the Diamondbacks.
By the time Price’s contract is in its final years, it’s hard to see him as a front of the rotation starter. He has already thrown close to 1500 innings in his career, with high-leverage post season innings pitched in all but two seasons. The chances of him being a 220+ IP pitcher by the time he’s in his mid-30s would seem to be remote. The Red Sox can afford a close to $30 million back of the rotation arm – just like the situation the Yankees are already in with C.C. Sabathia. The Diamondbacks now appear to be ready one day to do the same with Zack Greinke. With MLB’s collective bargaining talks set to begin next week, it will be interesting to see how talks concerning the future of revenue sharing progress.
Possibly having a good chuckle about all of this is Red Sox President Dave Dombrowksi. Within the span of just over fifteen months, Dombrowski acquired Price from Tampa in a three-team trade, and flipped him to the Blue Jays a year later for an arguably greater package of players than what he gave up to acquire him. The final act was Dombrowski introducing Price this week to the Boston media, while a division rival was left without their best starter over the last half of the season, and was minus three top pitching prospects and a compensation draft pick to boot.
Price, for his part, when questioned about his less than sterling playoff record (0-7, with a 5.27 ERA), continued the further growth of the David Price Brand when he told reporters with a smile that he was, “saving all my postseason wins for the Red Sox.”