The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Mookie Betts in a trade with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday. They also got David Price, which is not to be overlooked.
On Tuesday night, though it was not totally unexpected, the baseball world was rocked by a three-way trade with the headliner, Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts, going to the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s understandable that Betts is the guy everyone is talking about, as he’s one of the top players in baseball.
However, he wasn’t the only player the Dodgers came away with, as they also got left-handed pitcher David Price. One reason the Dodgers likely didn’t have to give the Red Sox much to get Betts (Alex Verdugo being the big name) was that they took Price off the Red Sox’s hands. Price, 34, is still owed $96 million over the next three years.
Yet this shouldn’t be viewed as simply a salary dump to the Dodgers by the Red Sox. Price could still be a useful arm for the Dodgers’ rotation. No, he likely is not going to pitch well enough to justify that massive contract, but that doesn’t mean he won’t add value.
We know that Price’s glory days are likely gone. He’s been an All-Star five times and finished in the top six in Cy Young Award voting four times — including three in the top two and winning it in 2012 — but that all came before 2016. Injuries have also been a factor during his time in Boston.
Still, the results haven’t been awful, either. 2019 was the first year in which he finished with an ERA above 4.00, at 4.28. Though his hits per nine innings were a career-high last year, Price’s FIP fell from 4.02 in 2018 to 3.62. BABIP in 2019 was by far the highest of his career, an astonishing .336.
Another promising stat is that the strikeout per nine innings rate was a career-high 10.7 in 2019, showing that he still has the ability to miss bats. According to FanGraphs, fastball velocity was still at 92.0 in 2019 while curveball, cutter, and changeup velocities were all still almost in line with his career numbers.
Price will essentially replace Kenta Maeda, likely in the third spot in the Dodgers’ rotation behind Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, after the Dodgers sent Maeda to the Minnesota Twins as part of the aforementioned trade. The basic numbers suggest it could be a wash, as Maeda has established himself as a solid middle of the rotation starter.
That’s why Price could be a key part of this deal. If he can stay healthy and get a second career wind by getting another shot at glory in LA, he could make this an even better deal for the Dodgers and make the clear National League favorites that much more impressive and formidable. His postseason experience – though he hasn’t exactly been dominant in his playoff career – could also help the Dodgers expel their October demons this year.