David Price and the Possibility of a Sudden Change To the AL East Landscape

Glenn Sparkman
Photo Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Ohhhhhh shit. I’d hate to be the team that paid David Price $217 million over seven years right now, amiright????

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be solemn and say that I don’t ever want to see anybody injured — and that’s very much true. It’s maybe even more true than usual in the case of Price. He was outstanding in every way imaginable during his brief Toronto Blue Jays career, and it’s not like it was his choice to leave (I seem to recall hearing from a clown or two that THE JAYS DIDN’T EVEN OFFER HIM A CONTRACT MEUUUUHHHH!!).

You gotta like David Price. How can you not? And you gotta feel for him if the news today out of Fort Myers is as bad as it could potentially be.

And yet… at the risk of bad karma… you gotta like Red Sox misfortune, too.

But OK. Let’s back up.

In case you haven’t heard, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweeted this morning David Price had an MRI on his elbow this morning and is seeking a second opinion about the results. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal added that the appointment will be with Dr. Neil Attrache (who is famous enough by now that he should at least have lent his name to a line of attaché cases) and the even-more-famous Dr. James Andrews.

If you’e a pitcher, these doctors are famous for all the wrong reasons. And, as Keegan Matheson notes, “rarely does one get a second opinion if they liked the first.”

This is all still verrrrrry speculative at this point, but it gives us a moment to think about the Red Sox, who are the clear, unquestioned favourites to win the AL East again. But… um… about that…

  • Losing Price for the season would be a huge blow for Boston. Obviously. Craig Edwards of FanGraphs has already looked at how the loss of Price (and his innings being taken by Boston’s depth starters) would change the projections, and it looks pretty damned good for the Jays. Right now, with Price still in the equation, Boston is 5.4 WAR ahead of the Jays, cumulatively. With Edwards’ adjustment that lead shrinks to just 1.4 WAR. (The Jays are the fourth best team in the AL by projected WAR, by the way, trailing only Cleveland, Boston, and the Astros.)
  • Hanley Ramírez has a sore throwing shoulder that will keep him out of the World Baseball Classic. This isn’t like a pitcher having a sore shoulder, obviously, and every report I’ve seen about it makes clear that he’s not feeling it when he hits, and that his swing has looked completely fine this spring. Since he’s mostly going to be a DH, it’s not a huge issue. Stiillllll, Hanley’s been pencilled in to play first base against left-handers, so that’s a bit of a downgrade.

  • The FanGraphs projections for the Red Sox’ best players don’t have them repeating their outstanding 2016 seasons, so there’s definitely upside there — which is what, along with the addition of Chris Sale, makes them especially terrifying. But let’s not forget how stupid good David Ortiz was last year, and how he’s gone. It’s far from impossible that full seasons of Panda and Benintendi could make back all of that lost value, but it’s not necessarily a slam dunk either.

  • Also… um… let’s see… there’s… uh… 

Fuck. The Red Sox are hard to nitpick. I could half-heartedly call Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello trash or point to Craig Kimbrel’s 17% walk rate in the second half (!) to suggest he’s rapidly becoming human, but they’re reeeeeeeally rather good.

Which is precisely why a potential major injury to David Price, as shitty as that would be for him and his fans (among them a great many Jays fans, myself included) and the division and the game of baseball, is friggin’ massive. 

The future isn’t written if it turns out he’s fine. The Jays can still win the division or have an incredible season if they don’t. You’d hate for the race to tighten this way. But oh man… it might be about to.