According to Baseball Essential’s Robert Murray, the Toronto Blue Jays are the first choice for free-agent ace David Price. Price, who was acquired by the Blue Jays at the trade deadline last year, reveled in the fact that he was embraced as a superstar in Toronto. The entire weight of Canada’s biggest city was on Price’s shoulders, and he delivered a 9-1 record with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. The left-hander did fizzle out in the playoffs, but cannot shoulder all of the blame. How different might things have looked for the Blue Jays if Ryan Goins and Jose Bautista communicated properly on a shallow popup?
Price wanting to re-sign with the Blue Jays is huge for the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto in general. Of the stars on baseball’s most powerful offensive juggernaut, only Russell Martin signed on in Toronto as a big-name free agent. Most thought the Blue Jays overpaid to get Martin, a native Canadian, in the first place. Jose Bautista was a scrap heap pickup, Josh Donaldson came in a trade. Same goes for Edwin Encarnacion and Troy Tulowitzki. Before Tulowitzki, there was Jose Reyes, also acquired in a trade. Ownership has not been tight-fisted, necessarily. Rather, the team has just had a difficult time luring free agents north of the border. Price could start to change that.
If you’ve never been to Toronto, you are truly missing out. The city of 2.6 million people is vibrant and beautiful with a stunning shoreline, pristine parks, fun neighborhoods, and gorgeous summer weather. Its citizens are crazy about sports, but not too crazy as in New York or Boston. For a free-agent baseball player, looking to earn over $25 million per year, there are few cities that should be more attractive. For years, however, the stigma of being located in Canada, and the scant playoff hopes of the Blue Jays have kept the biggest free agents away.
David Price does not seem like the type of player who will sign with a team based solely on the amount of money in the contract. He likes being in Toronto, and fully embraced the role of “big brother” to Marcus Stroman. The Blue Jays have a tight-knit clubhouse, and the team has fun playing together. For a starting pitcher, fun is the only way to describe taking the mound backed by a lineup that is a threat to put up a crooked number every inning.
The 30-year-old admitted to being overwhelmed by the pressure in 2014 when he was traded by the Tampa Bay Rays to the Detroit Tigers. For that reason, the Boston Red Sox are seemingly ruled out of the sweepstakes. If Price wants to be the guy in a rotation, he won’t go to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs may now be backing out of the bidding war, unable to swallow the $200 million asking price. The Blue Jays really should be viewed as the favorites to re-sign Price at this point.
The Toronto Blue Jays have all the makings of a big-market superpower. They have the market, the rabid fan base, the billion dollar conglomerate calling the shots, and the beautiful destination. Everything is in place for the Blue Jays to spend with the likes of Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. Now, the team needs to land one big player to announce to the baseball world that it is here to stay, and committed to putting its resources to work. David Price changed the face of the franchise last summer, now he has the potential to do so for the next seven years.