David Price has a chance to opt out of his current deal with the Red Sox after 2018 and start fresh elsewhere. But the lefty says he doesn't intend to do that.
Speaking to reporters for the first time since the start of Red Sox spring training in Fort Myers, Price says he's planning on staying with the Red Sox beyond 2018. He doesn't sound intent on opting out after the coming season, which may come as a surprise to some.
"No, there's [no doubt I want to return next season]," said Price. "I came here to win. I knew how tough it was to play here, to pitch here, and to go out and win it. I know all the emotions and everything is going to be even better in that positive light. So I look forward to doing that."
Obviously, Price wasn't going to say "Sure, I'd opt out." But he didn't need to say he has no doubt. He could've hemmed and hawed. And he also could just be saying this to push those questions off for eight months. But if you thought Price might be counting the days until he gets to pack his bags and get the hell out of Boston, you might be mistaken.
Price was later pressed by the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy - shocker, one of his most prominent critics - about his tenuous relationship with the media over his first two seasons in Boston. That would presumably be one of the reasons he'd rather pitch elsewhere after 2018, but apparently not. In fact, he took (some) responsibility for the way he's acted toward media members, most notably NESN analyst and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.
"I could've handled it better last year, absolutely, but I didn't," said Price. "I've moved on, and I look forward to getting back this year and getting off on the right foot."
However, in the next breath, Price added: "We can talk, but you're not gonna come over and overload me with negativity. That's not gonna happen." So we'll see how he reacts
if when that negativity comes his way.
But he also acknowledged that he can minimize, if not eliminate, negative reactions from the media and fans if he simply pitches better. And let's be honest: for the most part, if Price pitches well, he could kick puppies and spit on the elderly and put ketchup on his hot dogs for all we care.
"It's something I took from [ex-teammate] James Shields: if you don't like it, pitch better," said Price. "That's always the model, whether you're going good or going bad. You can always make things better by pitching better, and that's what I've got to do."
Only the biggest cynics in town would continue to criticize Price if he pitched like a Cy Young candidate in 2018. Knowing how it usually goes here, that's certainly possible. Even if he has a Cy Young-caliber regular season, there's still that whole thing about stepping up in the postseason.
But Price at least understands that he can avoid most of the shrapnel as long as he pitches like he's capable of pitching. He showed some of that late in the 2017 season and the hope is that his success carries over to 2018 - and also that he's gotten over the initial shock of the differences between playing in Boston and playing in Tampa, Detroit, or Toronto.
Still, it sounds like Red Sox Nation will need to hope that Price's success continues beyond 2018, and without serious injuries. Because he doesn't sound ready to leave. His mind could still change. But at this moment, Price appears to be in Boston for the long haul.
-- By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].