Is David Price the most wasteful trade acquisition in Dodgers history?
It really does feel like the Los Angeles Dodgers are about to pay $32 million to David Price for essentially … absolutely nothing. The necessary evil of acquiring the veteran pitcher was a result of the Mookie Betts trade back in 2020.
Upon arrival, Price opted out of the World Series-winning campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic, losing an entire year of play and leaving him spread thin since he missed about a third of the 2019 season due to injuries. When 2021 arrived, he had pitched only 107.1 innings over the last two seasons.
Speaking of 2021, though the numbers seem doable for a pitcher in his age-35 season, Price provided almost no value. He couldn’t eat innings. He was utilized bizarrely and almost totally ineffectually out of the bullpen. And he logged just 73.2 innings in 39 games (11 starts), which clearly instilled no faith to use him in the postseason (zero innings despite a decimated pitching staff top to bottom).
Now, somehow, with Opening Day a week away, Price “isn’t built up right now” to appear in the back of the rotation, according to manager Dave Roberts.
Was David Price the worst trade acquisition in Dodgers’ history?
An elbow injury held Price back a bit last season, but it didn’t keep him off the mound for long. In fact, he missed more time with a hamstring strain suffered in late April. He appeared in 12 games in the final two months of the season, which was split between the rotation and bullpen (as he dealt with the elbow soreness), and compiled 29 innings, which was more than a third of his season total.
Then came the offseason, where he’s had plenty of time to rest, work out, and tend to his elbow issue and other ailments. Apparently that didn’t help or wasn’t enough, because Price had yet to appear in a spring training game as of March 30, which seems almost impossible because Clayton Kershaw has logged 7.2 innings despite a flexor strain severely limiting his ability to contribute the second half of 2021. Price’s debut outing came on Wednesday, and he threw just one inning.
That’s affected discussions surrounding his usage, because at this point the Dodgers don’t know what his role will be, leaving the final two rotation spots to the underwhelming Tony Gonsolin and the really, really not good Andrew Heaney — both of whom cannot eat innings whatsoever.
Dodgers reporter Kirsten Watson asked Price why his buildup and readiness has taken longer than usual this year, and the veteran replied, “I don’t know.”
He’ll have another $32 million coming his way ($16 million from the Dodgers and $16 million from the Red Sox) without a role and the greater likelihood of a season-long assignment out of the bullpen, where he very much was not effective last year (4.18 ERA, 1.76 WHIP and .864 opponents’ OPS in 28 games).
Unless there’s a drastic 180 here, Price might go down as one of the most wasteful trade acquisitions in Dodgers history, even if it resulted in Mookie Betts becoming a new franchise icon.