BOSTON — For all the money the Red Sox are paying David Price, the Boston fans don’t just want a pitcher who gives the team a chance to win every five days. And it’s not enough for him to wind up among the Cy Young contenders in the off-season.
With a $217 million, seven-year contract that is the richest ever for a pitcher, the Red Sox are expecting playoff wins.
And that’s the one thing Price hasn’t delivered.
"I think I was just saving all my post-season wins for the Red Sox," Price said on Friday during his introductory news conference in a Fenway Park function room filled with championship memorabilia.
"I know good things are going to happen to me in October. That just hasn’t been the case thus far," said Price, who is 0-7 with a 5.27 career ERA in eight career post-season starts. "I know I can throw the ball as well in October as I do in the regular season. That time is coming for me, and hopefully it’s in 2016."
Despite winning it all in 2013 — their third World Series championship in 10 years — the Red Sox have finished last in the AL East in three of the past four seasons. Their rebuilding began in August when they brought in Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations, and this week he made his big move.
Price gets $30 million in each of the next three seasons, $31 million in 2019 and $32 million in each of the final three years. His deal tops the $215 million Clayton Kershaw will earn from the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2014-20.
The deal with Price — "one of the best pitchers in baseball, a true No. 1," Dombrowski said — gives the 2012 Cy Young Award winner a chance to opt out after three years. But it also goes against the team’s stated desire not to commit to long-term deals for pitchers who have already turned 30.
"There are exceptions to any rule, and certainly this is one of the most exceptional pitchers," owner John Henry said. "He’s putting up historical numbers, or at least bordering on that, at this stage of his career."
The AL’s top pitcher in 2012 and the runner-up twice in seven full major league seasons, Price has a 3.09 ERA with 1,372 strikeouts and 104 wins. He went 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA with Detroit and Toronto in 2015, striking out 225.
Red Sox general manager Mike Hazen also praised Price’s value as a teammate. While trying to decide whether to accept the ballclub’s offer, Hazen said, Price asked about other players in the system all the way to Class A Greenville.
The attitude, Hazen said, was: "If I’m going to sign here long-term, I want to know who my teammates are going to be long-term. Not just David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia."
Price already knows about them.
Maybe too well.
When he was with Tampa Bay, Price complained about the way the Red Sox designated hitter admired a post-season home run before slowly trotting around the bases. Price hit Ortiz with a pitch the following season, the dugouts emptied and the two called each other names.
But Ortiz told the Boston Herald at his charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic that the feud was over. Price said on Friday he’s looking forward to playing with "arguably the greatest DH to ever play the game."
"Big Papi and myself, we’re both competitors. What he’s done for this organization and the game of baseball is really special," said Price, who was given the No. 24 worn by Dwight Evans and Manny Ramirez. "I’m ready to be one of his really good friends."
Dombrowski, who worked with Price in Detroit, said he had no concern about him getting along with his new teammates.
"I had more than one person tell me, from a player perspective and from a staff perspective, that he was the best teammate they ever had," Dombrowski said.
After starting his career in Tampa Bay, Price was acquired by Detroit at the 2014 trade deadline. A year later, Dombrowski traded him to the Blue Jays at the July 31 deadline and Price helped Toronto reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
The Red Sox hope he can get them back to the playoffs after falling out of contention early last year.
And helps them win once they get there, too.
"Success in the post-season, sometimes it takes a while to come," Dombrowski said. "He’s a big-game pitcher. (It) hasn’t always happened in the post-season. I’m confident that he’ll do that for us."
The sides agreed to the terms of the deal on Tuesday, but had to wait for Price to pass his physical. The contract gives Price the right to opt out after three seasons.
"This is an exciting time," owner John Henry said. "We’re going to see one of the best pitchers in baseball every five days. It’s going to be exciting for our fans, but it’s going to be really exciting for our team."