David Price won't opt out of Red Sox contract 'to go to a team that's not as good'

It hasn’t always been a harmonious marriage for pitcher David Price and the Boston Red Sox. He’s had health issues and problems with the Boston press. But it seems like Price and the Red Sox are in the middle of a second honeymoon. He’s mended fences with some members of the media, and he’s pitching better than ever. With his contract opt-out approaching at the end of the 2018 season, would Price leave Boston for another club? The answer is, unequivocally, no.

“I came here to win”

Price, 33, spoke to MassLive on Tuesday about his upcoming contract decision. The opt-out was built into the seven-year, $217 million contract he signed in 2015, and it gives him a chance to leave the Red Sox and sign elsewhere.

While his opt-out would likely come up no matter what, it’s especially relevant in light of how Price has been pitching lately. In the nine starts he’s had since July 12, he’s pitched to a 2.04 ERA with 61 strikeouts, and he’s holding opponents to a .201 batting average. That looks like 2010-2015 David Price, the David Price who won the Cy Young in 2012 and finished in the top ten three other times. Price will make $31 million in 2019, and $32 million a year in 2020, 2021, and 2022. But he might be able to get more if he opted out and went to pitch for another team.

But Price is definitely not interested in doing that.

“Why would I leave here to go to a team that’s not as good as this team?” Price said. “I came here to win. I don’t worry about all the other stuff. Just come here to win. We’re going to have a really good chance to do that.”

It’s hard to argue with him about the Red Sox being the best team in baseball. They’re currently 99-46 with a nine-game lead on the second place New York Yankees. They clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday, and with 17 games left, could win 110 games or more. Their lineup and rotation are stacked with impressive, talented players. There are other teams with great players, but none of them are doing what the Red Sox have done in 2018.

BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 7: David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a game against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on September 7, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA – SEPTEMBER 7: David Price #24 of the Boston Red Sox looks on during a game against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on September 7, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Price’s history with Boston is rocky

Price’s comments are so interesting given his first two years in Boston. Between his pitching issues and his relationship with the press, it was rough. He struggled with consistency in 2016 and had a 4.74 ERA in his first 17 starts. He was able to pick it up in the second half, and ended the year with a 3.99 ERA.

While 2017 wasn’t better statistically, it was worse health-wise. He injured his elbow in spring training and didn’t make his debut until May 29. He then missed all of August with a recurrence of his elbow inflammation, and pitched out of the bullpen for the rest of the regular season. Boston fans didn’t hesitate to let Price know how they felt about his performance, but his excellent pitching in 2018 has gone a long way toward getting fans back on his side.

But injuries were only part of it. His relationship with the Boston media degraded sharply in 2017. In May he got into a shouting match with NBC Sports Boston reporter Evan Drellich. He got into a verbal altercation with Dennis Eckersley in the team plane in June, and was lambasted by the press and fans. In 2018, an offhand comment he made about the game Fortnite was spun into the cause of a bout of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Turning the page

If it’s surprising to hear David Price say that he wants to stay in Boston after all he’s been through, hold on to your hat, because it might pop right off your head after you read about this. He’s also mended fences with several members of the media, which he told Christopher Smith of MassLive.

He thinks his relationship with the Boston media has improved this year.

“Yeah, for sure,” Price said. “The same two or three people (reporters) come and talk with me (regularly). Some of you all have turned the page. A lot of others haven’t. I’m completely cool with that.”

So some reporters haven’t turned the page?

“Oh, yeah,” Price said. “But I’m completely fine with that. I like it more that way anyways.”

Price often felt the press was being too hard on him (and didn’t hesitate to make his unhappiness known, at least to Drellich), so to find out that he’s improved his relationship with even just a few reporters is great. Price has even stopped paying attention to social media.

In past years, Price responded to fans, including trolls, on Twitter but he’s not doing that anymore.

“I don’t even have it (Twitter) on my phone,” Price said. “I’ve got a new phone and it asked for my password and I didn’t know it. So I just don’t have it.”

If David Price can give up social media and turn around his relationship with Red Sox fans and press, there’s hope that even the most impossible dream can come true.

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on Twitter at @lizroscher.

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