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Boston Red Sox

By Matt McCarthy,

$127 million doesn’t buy you what it used to, but at least the Red Sox should feel reasonably good about the way they are spending $127 million for the next four years.

David Price’s contract situation looks much better than it did a year ago.

It should come as no surprise that Price decided to forego the opt-out clause in his record-breaking seven-year, $217 million deal. Even with his newfound October success and a strong season in the rear-view, there was no way a 33-year-old pitcher was going to match the $31 million average annual value he is guaranteed from the Red Sox if he hit the open market.

But the Red Sox should be encouraged that Price will be able to contribute to the cause over the next four years. That looks much more likely now than it did in the past.

It seems as if Red Sox fans are much more comfortable with the thought of David Price sticking around than they were a month ago. He erased his October demons and changed the way people look at him in this town.

But October isn’t the real reason why fans should be more confident in Price moving forward. The most important development from the lefty this year was proving that he is healthy.

Just over a year ago, it looked like he wasn’t going to be able to pitch.

Price’s 2017 campaign was marred by an elbow problem that limited him to just 11 starts and 16 total appearances. He came back in late-September and wasn’t able to start games for the Red Sox in their short October stint.

But Price followed up last year with his best season in Boston, going 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA over 30 starts in 2018.

If there were any lingering concerns about his durability after making 30 starts without a peep about his elbow, those questions were answered when Price repeatedly pitched effectively on short rest in the playoffs.

LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 28: David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after retiring the side during the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium on October 28, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

It now looks like the 2017 season was an outlier for Price, not a sign of bad things to come. Since 2010, Price has made 30 or more starts in every season except for last year and 2013, when he missed time with a triceps strain.

There are few workhorses left in baseball these days. Price’s track record indicates that he is one of them.

The Red Sox paid Price to take Jon Lester’s spot in the rotation. Lester was durable and was a postseason winner.

Price has now proven himself as a postseason winner, and looks to be as safe a bet as there is when projecting a pitcher’s durability.

He will be 37 when his contract comes to an end. If he is able to take the ball every five days by that point, the Red Sox will have got what they paid for.

With four years left to go, the Red Sox should feel increasingly confident that they made a decent investment in David Price.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.