As we’ve discussed ad nauseam, the Cubs figure to be heavily involved in the expansive, top tier pitching market this offseason. With starters like Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke (probably), Jeff Samardzija, and so many more all set to hit free agency, there will be no shortage of options.
One pitcher not listed though, may be the best of the lot, and might wind up the one most frequently tied to the Cubs: David Price.
Price, 30, has been an ace for just about his entire MLB career, he is young(ish) and can pitch as well as anyone. Any team would be lucky to have David Price. His decision, though, is ultimately going to come down to just one team, and I know we’re all wondering: might the Cubs be a fit?
Well, earlier this week, Jon Morosi tried to determine just what constitutes “a fit” from Price’s perspective, in an interview with Fox Sports. Here are Price’s answers in a nutshell:
- The team must show the ability to win immediately, but also throughout the length of his contract;
- The team must have a fun, easygoing environment that doesn’t make him dread heading to the ballpark every day.
On the ability to win now and into the future: you may not find a team better suited to enter (or remain in) a competitive window than the current crop of Chicago Cubs. The team is loaded with young positional talent – which, incidentally, is the least likely to endure meaningful injuries – has several veterans locked up for the immediate future (Rizzo, Castro, Lester, Arrieta), continues to have one of the most impressive minor league systems in the league, and maintains a decent payroll that figures to increase as new revenue streams open up. I don’t think I’m being unfair when I say the Cubs are set up to win now and in the future as well as any team in baseball.
On playing for a team with a fun, easygoing environment, I have just two words: Joe Maddon. If you haven’t gotten a sense of him yet, Maddon may be one of the most amicable, easy going managers out there. He’s the guy that bought everyone a shot and a beer in his opening press conference, encourages disco parties after wins, and cancels batting practice because it’s overrated. In addition to Maddon, the current roster might be one of the youngest, goofiest, fun loving Cubs’ teams we’ve seen in quite a while. They take selfies, dress up in costumes, dance in those disco parties, create videos of themselves doing ridiculous things, and rub their heads awkwardly (with huge grins) after every big hit. Plenty of teams have fun, and winning surely helps that, but again, you have to feel like the Cubs easily fulfill this requirement.
The Cubs/Price connection goes beyond meeting superficial criteria. If you recall last July, Price indicated that winning with the Cubs would be especially cool. In fact, his words were, “They would probably be the coolest city to win a championship in right now.” He even went as far as recognizing that the Cubs will be a very special team over the next few years specifically because of the talent that was (then) on the way up, but is now here. Hopefully, he’s been keeping an eye on the north side in 2015. And not for nothing, but those comments were made before the team had Montero, Lester and Joe Maddon, among others.
We’re still far away from free agency, and a lot can happen between now and when Price actually signs. But, at a minimum, we can surmise (1) he’s not likely to sign an extension with the Tigers at this point, and (2) he’s likely to command a deal in the $200 million range. To be clear, it’s possible that might even be more than the Cubs are willing to go, even if there is otherwise mutual interest, given how many other quality options exist.
On the year, Price has put up solid numbers once again, with a 2.70 ERA (3.07 FIP), 5.8% walk rate and 21.5% K-rate over 83.1 IPs. He has continued to be the pitcher he always has been (results-wise) over his entire career, despite a decrease in velocity to about 93 MPH, from 95. That happens to all pitchers as they enter their 30s, and the best figure out how to continue being effective for many more years thereafter.
Barring injury, David Price is going to get paid this offseason. Whether that money comes from the Cubs remains to be seen, but there seems to be a fit. You know, in June.