The Cincinnati Reds rumors are never going to stop, and I guess that’s a good thing since that means they are actively trying to find ways to improve their team. Mark Feinsand of reported earlier this afternoon that the Reds are “among the teams in play” for left-handed pitcher David Price.

When it comes to David Price there are a whole lot of factors to look at. First is why the Boston Red Sox are trying to move him. Second would be his contract status. Third would be his performance and expected performance moving forward. And fourth would be what the price of acquisition would be.

Why are the Red Sox trying to trade David Price?

This one is rather simple, if not quite dumb. The Red Sox are trying to cut payroll despite the fact that they can print money. Boston is trying to get under the luxury tax threshold and being able to move at least some of the Price deal would help get them there.

David Price’s Contract Status

Until a week ago, David Price had the largest contract ever signed by a pitcher in Major League Baseball history. Both Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole has surpassed that one this week. There are three years remaining on that contract, with no buy out or opt out available. Price is owed $32,000,000 in each of those three seasons. That’s $96,000,000 for those of you keeping track at home. It would cover his age 34, 35, and 36 seasons.

Past and Future Performance

At one point in time, David Price was arguably the best pitcher in the game of baseball. Those days aren’t today. But even now, he’s a pretty good pitcher. At least that is when he’s on the mound. Going back to 2017 he’s missed a lot of time. He’s had 63 starts and five relief appearances in the last three seasons. In that stretch he’s posted a 3.75 ERA – good for an ERA+ of 122. But that ERA has been trending in the wrong direction, going from 3.38 to 3.58 to 4.28 last season. For context, that 4.28 ERA last year was still good for a 113 ERA+, meaning he’s still above-average when on the mound.

In the 2019 season David Price missed a whole lot of bats, striking out 128 hitters in 107.1 innings. He also didn’t walk many hitters, handing out 32 free passes on the season. That’s always a good combination.

What’s not exactly a good thing is that he’s been losing velocity for years now. In 2015 he averaged 95 MPH on his fastball. It was down to 92.4 MPH last season. With that said, his fastball, cutter, and curveball all rate out as average or better pitches still. It’s the change up that’s taken a big hit over the last two seasons.

Steamer Projections at Fangraphs have David Price posting a 4.17 ERA in 164.0 innings next season, providing 2.6 WAR along the way. The Marcels Projection system is right there with ERA, giving him a 4.15 ERA but in 130.0 innings for the 2020 season.

The Cost of Acquiring David Price

This is where things are difficult. It seems that everyone and their grandmother is speculating that no one is going to take on David Price by himself. The issue is that no one really seems to have a good feel of what it would take for teams to actually make that kind of trade. Would the Red Sox have to eat a large chunk of his salary? And if so, how much? $10M a year? HALF?

Or would the Red Sox be willing to add in a young player such as Andrew Benintendi in order to get a team to take on the scale of the David Price contract? Could things get real wild and see some team take on both David Price and Mookie Betts, who has also reportedly been on the market for the same reason that Price is? No one really knows what is actually being asked for in return from Boston to help them move money around.

What we do know is that the Reds have looked at it to see what the cost is. They continue to try and upgrade their pitching staff, and David Price would certainly do that. The question for now is whether it makes sense to get a deal done. Without knowing any more details it’s nearly an impossible question to answer.

Photo of David Price by Arturo Pardavila III. Photo was modified. Licensing can be found here.

33 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    From an article on MLBTR, it said the Sox do not intend to include a player like Benintendi.
    SO for Betts, you are a ton of money.
    I think the Sox would need to pay 60 mil total.

  2. CallowayPost

    I had a feeling the Reds would make another splash during the winter meetings, well, because they said as much. But I firmly believed the Reds would be the most dangerous via trade given how the successful the players that had success last year became. The staff has quickly become one of the most prudent and talented in baseball. They aren’t going to magically fix every player that comes their way, but I guarantee there is a list of names the coaches have insisted on if trades became the path forward.

    Remember the mega rotation the Phillies had years ago? Oswalt, Lee, blanking on the third, but I believe the Reds already have that. Solidifying it even more with someone like Price obviously makes sense, especially working with Johnson again. As someone notes on Red Reporter, getting Price out of the AL East and with a fresh team, scenery, and a second to none pitching staff to help guide him…it could be a great boon (shut up, Frasier) to add a Lefty like that to our rotation, especially if it means another team in the NL doesn’t get him. If adding in Betts or Andrew is a possibility, I absolutely send the Red Sox an email with a list of names and a number of those names they can choose from, IF they eat that money. Team has said over and over again they have money…so why shy away from spending it on two guys that instantly make your team dominant.

    • Colt Holt

      I believe that would be a young Cole hamels you are referring to.

      • CallowayPost

        A part of me wants to say Roy Halladay, Mr. No No himself.

      • Colt Holt

        It appears that all four were on the 2011 Phillies.

    • Rich H.

      Their 2011 rotation was Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Vance Worley. Incredible rotation.

  3. Optimist

    This has to be 95% “show me the money”. IIRC the Sox also need to stock or restock their minors, so perhaps the the deal is Price, Sox eat some (50%?) of his salary, another Sox MLB player, and 1 of their prospects, for a bunch or Reds non-top-5 prospects, and perhaps one of our non-Aquino OFers.

    Really think the Sox are focused on reducing the % of salary they eat for the next 3 years.

    • Optimist

      A few comments –

      1 – “Another Sox MLB player” could be anyone – take your pick/male your demand.

      2 – Still mostly about the money, but don’t overlook the dynamic pricing/budget possibility – with success, the $100m is a lesser percentage of a bigger budget 3 years from now.

      3 – Which is where scouting/development come in – as StL demonstrates, if Reds can keep and develop the farm the timing may work out to avoid a collapse in 3 years.

      4 – Finally, I expect either, but not both, of a deal like this, or another FA signing. I’d prefer the deal, particularly if it’s the equivalent of a signing by taking on salary such as this. Need to keep the top 5 prospects, AND get another MLB player back in the deal.

      I’d do it before a straight up, high $$$, FA signing.

    • Big Ed

      I agree that it is a tough fit for the Reds without Benintendi, for the reasons you state.

  4. Scotly50

    There is not a team that is not in play as far as the Red Sox are concerned.

  5. Colt Holt

    There is no real prospect value in that package for Boston. If they give up $41 million on the price deal, they won’t be giving away mookie. They will be looking for a top 15 overall prospect, or mookie will have a qualifying offer from the Red Sox next year.

    • Colt Holt

      That would be top 15 in all of baseball. An asset that the reds don’t currently have.

  6. B-town fan

    The only reason I would give this trade a chance, a small chance, would be the Derek Johnson connection with Price, is there something that Johnson see’s that gives the Reds the confidence to pull the trigger like they did with Gray, and that the Reds have a lot of experience doing this type of trade, like just last year with the Dodgers. But in the end it is going to depend on how motivated are the Red Sox to do a deal.

    • James H.

      Indeed. No reason to trade for an overpriced has-been who has a case of the assholes (tiff w/Eckersly).

  7. Tom

    Why haven’t we traded for Correa? Throw Galvis in that deal. Either trade for Marte or sign Castellanos or both. As for pitchers, we need a starter but we need two good setup guys in the bullpen. Our bench depth is suspect as well. We don’t need the japanese experiment. Gotta have an offense that clicks from day damn 1. Make something happen Dick

  8. Steve Schoenbaechler

    In a word, NO. Not unless the Sox are willing to fork over some major money and/or 1-2 major players, for an average OFer.

    So, maybe like, Price and Benintendi and maybe $30-40 million for, say, Winker.

  9. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Story at MLB Trade rumors just now, the Reds are meeting with Shogo.

    Again, I would have no problem taking Price off the Red Sox hands. But, it has got to include a lot of money and/or some other major players for minor pieces (whether major league or minor league) of ours.

  10. Colorado Red

    PS is it spelled kosher.
    Not that I am the best speller in the world.

  11. Wes

    How bout take on his whole salary if sox throw in José peraza ?? Heard he’s a stud.

    Seriously though- price and Benintendi for winker and Bauer w Sox kicking in around 5 mil per season for price. That will save them 15 million this season and give them a top end replacement piece for this coming season while filling the outfield spot and make up for winkers last of D in tiny LF.

    Reds roll their recent trade debacles into a home town hero and all is forgotten while extending a top end rotation piece for 2 more seasons and still have some funds to throw around this offseason. Bout as good as it’ll get for reds.

  12. Steve D

    Mookie Betts and David Price to Cincy for Jonathan India. Boston sends Cincy $40 million. We pay the whole salary of price this year And Boston pays the next two years-$7 mi. This would free up over $50 million of cap space for 2020. And maybe they try to sign Mookie back after the 2020 year. Could see this as a win win for both sides.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Keep in mind that if the Red Sox trade David Price, they don’t need to trade Mookie Betts.

      Price is counting $96 million on the Red Sox payroll for the next three years. If they can get that off the books, most — if not all — of their problem — is solved. All of the talk about trading Betts is because he is likely to be seeking a contract similar to Price’s, and the Red Sox can’t carry two contracts like that and not go over the tax threshold. So they want to get something in return for Betts instead of the likelihood of losing him for nothing.

      If the Red Sox can trade Price, there is very little chance they will trade Betts, IMO. They are going to have to incentivize some team into taking Price by offering another attractive asset, but it won’t be Betts.

      • Big Ed

        I agree. The whole point of trading David Price is to free up money to pay Mookie Betts, and at least try to get below the luxury tax in 2020.

        The Reds could structure it to take on all of Price’s salary for 2020, and maybe half of it in 2021-22, but even that makes them pay $64 million for three years of Price. Price is not 35 times better than Mahle, which is what $21 million is compare to what Mahle will make next year. I think that is too much, so that is why the Red Sox need to add Benintendi to make it work for the Reds. The Red Sox say that they will not give up Benintendi, but then they have to say that.

        Maybe there is a combo of players and money that go back and forth to make it work, but it would be a complicated deal. And I would only do it if Derek Johnson had a chance to talk to Price and was fully on board with it. The Reds don’t need an expensive pain-in-the-neck, and they sure don’t need an injured, expensive pain-in-the-neck.

  13. Vegas john

    I Like that Steve. Reds would also get to QO Betts if they can’t extend him. Betts would put up ridiculous numbers in GABP!

  14. Big Ed

    Yes. Price wrote the foreword to Johnson’s book on pitching.

  15. Indy Red Man

    What is it with almost everyone on RLN writing off Aquino? I’m more excited about him then I am Senzel. Every time Nick starts to hit then you know Mr DL is about to interrupt.

  16. westfester

    It’s DECEMBER. Post this in March if nothing happens.

  17. Dawson

    I don’t like the idea of a Price deal at all. Hope this doesn’t happen. Maybe Betts on a trade and sign deal or Benintendi, but Price does not seem to be as effective as he once was and has an injury history that worries me. Plus, he likely won’t come cheap, even with the Red Sox trying to unload salary.

  18. Scott C

    The only way I would take on any of Price’s salary is if Benintendi is included in the deal. Otherwise there is no incentive for the Reds to move that way. I don’t know how much he is making, but I would much rather have Eduardo Rodriquez, forget I said that the Red Sox are not doing that deal.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      No team is going to take Price, who is in his mid-30s, on a declining performance pattern, and still owed $96 million, in a straight trade for anyone. Like the Zack Cozart trade to San Francisco, the Angels said to the Giants, if you will take Cozart’s $12 million contract, we will give you our top 2019 draft pick. That is the kind of trade it will take to move Price to another team.

      From the Reds’ standpoint, the Red Sox would have to also send a valuable asset as incentive to Cincinnati to take on the $96 million contract. It would need to be a starting-caliber player. And the Reds would NOT send back anything of value. Maybe some prospect in the low minors.

      If all of that were to happen, it would be very interesting to have Price in the Reds rotation. Even a middle-of-the-road Price in terms of performance would likely be an upgrade over DeSclafani. It all will come down to how desperately Boston wants to clear Price’s salary from their books.

  19. Alex

    From “we’ll have a few million to spend” in 2017 to “let’s explore taking on David Price’s contract…”


  20. Redgoggles

    I would consider a similar strategy with Pollock with the Dodgers; we were all fawning over him just a short time ago, and yes the injuries have added up. But maybe this is a better strategy to #getthehitting since signing free agents apparently isn’t gaining a ton of traction for the good guys. This option avoids spending farm/player capital, and could pay off in bounceback types of seasons. I prefer this than overpaying fringey players that aren’t likely to make a huge difference for one reason or another. Cheaper risk while keeping a longer competitive window open, imo.

    • Phil

      Pollock’s injury history is concerning. I like this idea though because:
      1) The Dodgers have outfield depth and want out of his contract so would likely be a cheap return in the trade.
      2) He doesn’t have a severe platoon split. Average to above-average production against both left and right-handed pitching.
      3) He can play some CF which would allow the Reds to take better advantage of Senzel’s (and therefore Moustakas) defensive versatility.

      For example when Votto and Winker sit against left-handed starting pitcher: Ervin plays left-field, Moustakas moves to 1B, Senzel to 2B and Pollock to CF.

      Or Suarez needs a day off. Moustakas to 3B, Senzel to 2B and Pollock in CF.

      Having another player who can legitimately play CF (Winker should not be there) allows for a lot more roster flexibility.

  21. Bill J

    Of they go for either of those two they better hurry, the Padres are talking to both.