ESPN’s Buster Olney begins his latest Insider-only blog post by offering his take on David Price’s deal with the Red Sox. Olney notes that while the blame for Boston’s failure to retain Jon Lester as its ace lies on owner John Henry and not former GM Ben Cherington, Henry deserves credit for recognizing the mistake and going to the measures necessary to bolster his rotation. Rival evaluators have wondered to Olney how Price will adapt to losing his velocity as he ages, but for the short-term, Price gives Boston exactly what it needed — an ace to front the rotation and shift names like Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Eduardo Rodriguez and the injury-prone Clay Buchholz down the rotation.
Some more highlights from Olney’s column…
- Price’s signing creates a perfect storm for Zack Greinke, who now stands alone as the top free agent starter on the market with a pair of division rivals — the Giants and Dodgers — bidding against one another to secure his services. One person close to the situation suggested to Olney that Greinke could land a five-year deal worth $165MM (an average annual value of $33MM), which meshes with a recent report from ESPN’s Jayson Stark that said Greinke could take a five-year deal if it meant a sizable increase over Price’s AAV.
- The Indians have been listening to offers on their young starters, but the price tags for pitchers like Price and Greinke have underscored the value of controllable, young arms like Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar, leading to a perhaps exorbitant asking price. For instance, the Indians asked the Giants for a package that included both Brandon Belt and Joe Panik in exchange for Carrasco in recent talks, according to Olney. While some Giants fans may recoil at the notion, Olney writes that with pitchers such as J.A. Happ commanding $36MM over three years, Carrasco’s four-year, $22MM contract and two club options come with incredibly high value. Carrasco talks between the two sides are dead at this point, he adds.
- The Cubs have been positioning themselves for a run at Jeff Samardzija since before Price made his final decision. The Giants are among the other clubs with interest in Samardzija, according to Olney, who wonders if the teams that missed out on both Price and (eventually) Greinke will then check in with Johnny Cueto as an alternative.
- The Cardinals have at least spoken to Greinke, but there’s no indication that they’re prepared to compete with the Dodgers and Giants for his services, making it seem unlikely that they’ll emerge as a late dark-horse candidate in his market.
- The Cubs weren’t comfortable with the notion of roughly $55MM per season for a pair of pitchers each season for the foreseeable future, referring to a potential combo of Price and Lester. Olney calls a swap of Jorge Soler and Braves right-hander Shelby Miller a potential plan B for Chicago, which would then free up the club to make a run at Jason Heyward.