Earlier this season, I was willing to consider the notion that David Price would consider re-signing with the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, after another mediocre postseason performance that also raised real questions about Toronto’s willingness to trust their ace in a big spot, and big changes coming to the front office, I have my doubts. David Price to the Chicago Cubs feels inevitable for more than a few reasons.
Let’s start with the most obvious reason — the Cubs need another star pitcher. Over the next decade, the Cubs cannot expect to break through to the World Series against teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets, and Pittsburgh Pirates when they are starting Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks every fifth day. The Cubs have an ace — Jake Arrieta — and a really, really good pitcher — Jon Lester (not an ace in the fullest sense of the word). Dan Haren is retiring. That leaves a big hole, and neither Hammel or Hendricks is capable of stepping up into the crucial third starter spot.
The Cubs have plenty of money to spend on Price. Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, and Javier Baez will be under team control for most of the duration of any contract offered to Price. The Cubs could potentially have four All-Stars way below market value. Anthony Rizzo is signed to an incredibly team-friendly deal that will not pay him more than $7 MM until the 2019 season. The Cubs can also retain Rizzo for the 2020 and 2021 seasons for only $14.5 MM. If Rizzo continues on his 30-homer, 100-RBI pace, that will be a massive bargain. Only Starlin Castro‘s deal could be called a bad one, but the Cubs may find a way to deal him this winter.
Beyond the fact that the Cubs clearly need an ace, Price has an outstanding relationship with new Chicago manager Joe Maddon. After playing for three teams in two years, Price may want some continuity and familiarity, and a reunion with Maddon would provide that. Chicago is also much closer to Price’s Tennessee roots than Toronto. A move to the National League would also only stand to benefit Price. Witness Max Scherzer‘s two no-hitters, and multiple brushes with history in his debut NL season. With the Cubs, some of the pressure would also be off Price. Arrieta would be his equal, with Lester not far behind. In Toronto, Marcus Stroman looks like the real deal, but all the pressure would still be heaped on Price. So far in his career, he has proven that pressure may be a little too much to take.
Finally, there is the future of the Cubs and Blue Jays to consider. Chicago has an incredibly bright future. Toronto’s is a bit murkier. What exactly does Mark Shapiro have in store for the Blue Jays after Alex Anthopoulos bankrupted the farm system with a flurry of win-now moves at the deadline? The former Cleveland Indians exec is really going to have to lay a plan out and show Price Toronto can continue winning.
David Price becoming a member of the Chicago Cubs is by no means set in stone, but it would be hardly surprising to see him suiting up for the North Siders in 2016. The Cubs feel like the favorites to sign David Price. Can the Blue Jays do enough to convince him to stay north of the border for more than 11 starts? The allure of Maddon and playing with the future stars in Chicago may be too much for Toronto to overcome.