David Price is about to become a very wealthy man. Scratch that, David Price is already a very wealthy man. He’s about to become an extremely wealthy man. With the open market value of a frontline starting pitcher continuing to skyrocket, Price will most likely become one of the five highest paid players in the league this winter. Postseason struggles will do nothing to tamp down the feeding frenzy that will surround the 30-year-old left-hander who has already won 104 games and at least one Cy Young with a career ERA close to 3.00.
Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw set the market when it comes to starting pitching. Scherzer signed for $210 million over seven years with the Washington Nationals last offseason. Kershaw just wrapped up the first year of a seven-year, $215 million dollar extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Price is no Kershaw, but he’s got a much better track record than Scherzer had when he struck it rich.
Prior to signing with the Nationals, Scherzer had a career 91-50, and had led the American League in victories for two straight seasons. Some of that was a byproduct of having one of the league’s best offenses backing him. Scherzer had not managed to finish a season with an ERA below 3.00 until his sixth year in the league. Price has already had three such seasons, and in 2015, had a better ERA in the American League, 2.45, than Scherzer had pitching in one of the weakest divisions in the National League, 2.79. Scherzer did show how dominant he can be, throwing two no-nos, and flirting with a handful more. On a consistency basis, however, Price has Scherzer beat.
So, if Price is just as good, if not better than Scherzer, but not quite as good as Kershaw, where does his price tag fall?
Price is represented by Bo McKinnis. Price is, by far, his biggest client. McKinnis has never had the chance to negotiate a massive contract like this one, but he did get Price a record-setting bonus when drafted, and a record-setting $19.75 million in arbitration. Even if McKinnis is not Scott Boras, he knows how to get Price top dollar.
The logical starting point for Price is seven years, $210 million, exactly what Scherzer got. That’s the starting point. It seems fair that Price and McKinnis should want just a bit more than Price’s former teammate in Detroit. Tack on an extra $500,000 per year, and you wind up with seven years and $213.5 million dollars. Not quite as much as Kershaw, but a little bit more than Scherzer, a fair deal in my books. From there, it will be up to Price, McKinnis, and whoever signs the ace to figure out just how backloaded the deal will be. If Price somehow stays with the Toronto Blue Jays, the team may have pony up even more cash to help offset some of the Canadian taxes.
So, who’s got $213.5 million to spend over the next seven seasons? Theo? Theo?