Detroit Tigers: David Price Projected to be 2nd Most Expensive MLB Free Agent


David Price of the Detroit Tigers is expected to be one of the most expensive MLB free agents to hit the open market this offseason.

The esteemed MLB transaction enthusiasts at MLB Trade Rumors posted a top-ten list of impending free agents ranked by estimated contract size. Checking in at number two is David Price of the Detroit Tigers.

"Price has been stellar in his seven starts since we last checked in, and his 2.42 ERA ranks fourth in the American League.  He’ll turn 30 in August, and seems poised for a record megadeal.  I’m not quite there yet, but I could see Price passing Upton on this list before the season is through."

As alluded to in the quote, the only player ranked above Price in estimated contract size here is Justin Upton, of the San Diego Padres. Price has quite clearly been the better player in recent years, but he will be a 30-year-old pitcher next year, and aging pitchers carry decidedly more risk with respect to age and injury than 28-year-old position players do.

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The largest free agent contracts dished out last offseason were to starting pitchers Max Scherzer (seven years, $210 million) and Jon Lester (six years, $155 million). That provides a nice broad range into which David Price’s next contract will likely fit. The guess is that it would be closer to Scherzer’s both in terms of total years and dollars, but probably not exceeding that mark.

The Tigers and Price apparently held some quiet negotiations during the spring, but nothing has yet come of them. It’s likely that the Tigers would be trying to (rightly) land him on Lester end of the range while Price (rightly) wants to test the market in hopes of a more Scherzer-like deal.

Detroit has nearly $30 million coming off the books this offseason in the form of Price’s own contract and Joe Nathan‘s salary, so they could probably work with large new deal in the short-term, but Price is going to command at least six years which would mean nearly $90 million committed to three aging players (Price, Justin Verlander, and Miguel Cabrera) all the way out through (at least) the 2019 season.

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