The Toronto Blue Jays entered this off-season with a plan to prioritize pitching. They officially signed Tanner Roark on Wednesday, but there’s reason to believe an even bigger move could be on the horizon.
Ken Rosenthal reported in The Athletic on Sunday that Toronto is “talking to” the Boston Red Sox about trading for pitcher David Price, citing major-league sources. He added that the teams would have to agree on how much Boston would pay on Price’s remaining contract (three years, $96 million) before a deal could come to fruition.
“Such an agreement is not close at this time,” Rosenthal wrote, “and the Red Sox are talking to other clubs about Price and examining different options as well, sources said.”
Boston’s interest in dealing its 34-year-old lefty stems from the desire to get below the luxury tax threshold.
As of now, the Red Sox — who’ve had baseball’s highest payroll for the past two seasons — are on track to exceed the threshold for a third consecutive year. That would hike their base tax rate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent and could include hefty additional surcharges, depending on how greatly they exceed the mark (next year’s threshold is $208 million and the Red Sox have a projected payroll of roughly $219 million, according to Spotrac).
“We need to be under the CBT,” Henry told the Associated Press in November. “That was something we’ve known for more than a year now.”
Dealing Price would certainly help the Red Sox do that. As for the Blue Jays, adding Price would mean adding a decorated pitcher (Cy Young winner, World Series champion and five-time all-star) to a group that is trying to find its way out of a rebuild.
And of course, the Blue Jays have worked with Price before. They traded for him at the deadline in 2015, sending pitchers Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt to the Detroit Tigers. He went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts for the Blue Jays before reaching free agency in the off-season and signing a seven-year mega deal with the Red Sox.
Now, its possible that a reunion is coming.
Price hasn’t been an all-star in any of his four years with Boston, but he still has a 3.84 ERA, 3.74 FIP and 9.3 strikeouts per nine innings in that span. For a Blue Jays team with a young corps that hopes to take a step forward in 2020, that could be quite an addition.