The Price of David Price

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price signedI could handle putting the card (on the right) on Twitter in the next couple of weeks. I think many fans would love it quite a bit! Cubs’ fans are waiting for this announcement, this tweet, this Facebook post, something to say that the franchise signed David Price. Its ends a signal that the franchise is ready to win the World Series now and for the foreseeable future.

However, the price of acquiring Price may be more than the Cubs can afford. To sign Price just to placate the fan base, that is not something that this front office is going to do. Theo will sign him to improve the team and the chances of winning a World Series. And for Price, he is not going to sign here just because of Joe Maddon, or because it is a fun place to play. He is going to sign a contract that is best for him in terms of dollars and gives him the chance to win a ring, or two.

What Would the Cubs Get in Price?
Stability. Price has been a pretty stable pitcher the past 8 seasons. His ERA has dropped slowly every year. His K rate is pretty stable and his FIP and ERA variance is never too far apart (less than 0.50 most seasons). So based on his stats (see charts below), you get a guy that will throw 200+ innings, put up an ERA under three most years, strike out nearly 10 per game, have a nice K/BB ration, is rarely injured, and is one of the top five pitchers in his league every year. That would be a pretty good buy. That’s who David Price is and will be.
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Throw in an average WAR of around 4 per year, and the Cubs would have a guy they can slot in every year at the 1 or 2 spot for the next 6-7 years. He’s still young (having just turned 30), and has been known as a very positive guy to play with. In other words, he’s a good teammate and would be a great investment based on his performance. The lack of a postseason win does not concern me, nor should it you.

Throw in the fact that in signing Price, the Cubs would still keep their top pick in the draft next year (albeit at 28), and you have several factors that make Price the perfect acquisition to sign this winter. Price has commented that he would love to play in Chicago and he has also been fond of Jake Arrieta and vice versa via Twitter. All the signs point to the fact that this could be the start of a beautiful friendship (it might have already begun).

What’s It Mean to the Rotation?
Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, and Kyle Schwarber emerged last year to lengthen the lineup and provide cover for other hitter, Price’s signing would signal a dramatic shift in the rotation. It could mean a difference of 4-6 wins over the course of a season. That’s enough to get the Cubs to the top of the division. That doesn’t take into account moving others down in the rotation and the addition of one more starter. Nor does it entail moving, at least for one year, Jason Hammel down in the rotation or into the bullpen, where he might be better suited.

In the big scheme of things, Price is only one starting pitcher the Cubs look to acquire this offseason. The Cubs still look to deepen that rotation even further for the regular season and a long playoff run. Looking at what the Mets did in the NL postseason, they had three shutdown starters. The Cubs had two, and both were a little bit run down after a long playoff run in the regular season, and an emotional playoff run in the post season. Price could change the dynamics of the stress by getting the Cubs out ahead of the competition in the regular season and resting some pitchers down the stretch to be ready for the postseason grind.

What’s the Downside?
Money.

To me, it all comes down to the coin that Price can get. Is it going to cost something akin to what Lester got last year?

Yes. Likely it will take a seven year deal. And even more likely, it will come close to #200 million.

Can the Cubs afford that cost until the TV contract comes in?
I don’t know. Maybe the Cubs can backload the contract so that he gets more money when the TV contract does come in. I heard Theo talk earlier this offseason about how the Cubs might have to get creative to acquire talent this offseason. I think that can applied to Price’s price. Maybe a new sign goes up in left field that pays $20 million a year. That would cover 70-80% of his cost. There are a lot of options there for Theo to take. Look for little things to happen in the Cubs news cycle to lead up to Price’s signing. I think the Cubs can sign him, it’s just going to take some work.

Another aspect of this is do the Cubs want to tie up most of their payroll on three pitchers (If Arrieta gets an extension) who will all be in their 30s (very shortly) for the life of their contracts? It’s a big gamble if they do. Aside from Lester’s dead arm and Arrieta’s shoulder stiffness to start 2014, none of the three has ever had extended time on the DL.

Whatever the case, Price is going to get paid. Will it be as a Cub?
Boston has the funds. So do the Dodgers. So do the Blue Jays. While money might not be everything, if Boston can get put down 7 years at $210 million, the Cubs are going to be taxed to meet that average annual value until 2019 or 2020.

I honestly don’t know what will happen. I am prepared for the worst but hoping for the best.

The Cubs do have pitching talent coming in waves in the next 2-3 years. None of those pitchers project to be anything like Price. Sure, Underwood could be a three, or Dylan Cease might be a two, but Price is already a proven ace. Don’t let the fact slide away from you. Those don’t come cheap.

In end, Price is going to set his market, with or without the Cubs. In what will likely be the biggest payday of his life, Price is not going to rush to judgment. This is going to take some time for a player to get the contract of his life. I think Price could take less to play with the Cubs, but how much less? Lester took less last year to sign with the Cubs than to sign with the Giants. I don’t think Price will take much less over the life of a six to seven year deal. $20-30 million is a lot to slip away.

But then again, the Cubs are ready to win now and through 2021. And to Price, I think that is the Cubs number one draw and might be just as good a draw as $200 million.

I don’t know if the Cubs can wait very long for things to play out. I think Theo might be willing to drag things out a few more weeks. But, the Cubs have goals this offseason they need to accomplish. The Cubs cannot sit around too much longer while waiting for Price to make his decision, otherwise the Cubs could be left with nothing. Price’s signing with someone will happen, it might not happen soon enough for the Chicago Cubs’ fans base. It seems we have become an impatient lot.

We need to patient a while longer. We have to. That’s what winning teams do.

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