The Boston Red Sox have reportedly inked annual Cy Young candidate David Price to a seven-year, $217 million contract. The agreement, which has an opt-out clause after three seasons, is the richest contract ever given to a pitcher and it also ties the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera for the highest AAV at $31 million.
With Price set to toe the rubber on Opening Day, pending a physical, the Red Sox now have an asset they lacked before Dave Dombrowski was named president of baseball operations. They have starting pitching depth. With the addition of Price, the Red Sox now have eight starters capable of being in the Major Leagues.
These assets include an injury-prone Clay Buchholz, young stud Eduardo Rodriguez, a well overpaid Rick Porcello, Henry Owens and Brian Johnson who show talent, a confused Joe Kelly, and farm boy Wade Miley. Of these, Porcello will lead the pack making around $21 million per year for the next four years, followed by Buchholz whose team option was picked up for $13 million. Owens, Rodriguez and Johnson are pre-arbitration eligible and under team control.
Which of these assets help restock the farm system, that by no means was depleted rather than weakened by the acquisition of All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, or give him a return to help restock the bullpen?
Owens or Johnson? No, too young and both have shown their skill in the higher levels of the minors along with being under team control. Rodriguez? No way, this guy is a budding ace, if not a good number two starter when he’s not tipping his pitches. Porcello? Good luck finding a GM dumb enough to take that contract for a 4.92 ERA. Kelly? I give Kelly the benefit of the doubt because his stuff is too good for him to not be of value to this club in some way (he had a strong second half before being plagued by injury).
So that leaves Wade Miley and Clay Buchholz. A workhorse with an ERA that will sit around 4.00 or an easily injured right-hander who when healthy, is one of the best in the game? That’s easy, Buchholz will get the most in return while Miley will add more value to the team.
Buchholz is 31 years old and is owed $13 this season along with an option for the following season. In just 113.1 innings pitched in 2015, he led the staff with 3.2 WAR while posting a 2.86 FIP before being sidelined with elbow problems. It’s no question that when Buchholz is healthy, his stuff he can be as good as anyone’s in the game. His lack of consistency and inability to stay healthy, however, are cause for concern to any opposing GMs interested in acquiring Buchholz.
Wade Miley on the other hand is a work horse. Making just over $6 million this season, Miley looks as valuable as anyone the Red Sox have. Miley has thrown at least 190 innings and has made at least 29 starts every year since 2012. Having a pitcher like that who you can rely on to take the ball every fifth day and deliver consistent results is a great asset to a pitching staff.
Buchholz right now is a sell-high candidate. He will not command as huge a return as a true ace, but certainly enough where the return could help restock the farm system or help rebuild the bullpen. Buchholz is valuable, but Boston has more than enough pitching and has the assets to acquire more through free agency if needed. Buchholz could be a nice piece for some GM, who is willing to take a bit of a gamble and is looking to add a front-of-the-rotation pitcher. He would not come without risk, but if the Red Sox are willing to take on some of the money owed their former top prospect, he could fetch a decent trade return.