The 2017 Red Sox need David Price. No, he doesn't have to be 2012 Cy Young winner David Price. Last year's version, which was actually an underrated year for how much shit Price has taken from the media, would do just fine. The Sox have a few holes right now. Third base, the bullpen, and finding a fifth starter. However, if and when Price returns to the majors he represents as big of an upgrade to a positional need the Sox could possibly ask for.
So far this year the fifth starter job has been occupied by Steven Wright, Kyle Kendrick, and Hector Velazquez. As Jared Carrabis points out in a blog from this week that group has made a combined eight starts this year and posted a 9.64 ERA. That sucks. The fifth starter position on the Red Sox this year has basically been pitching us out of games. However, if you take those starts out and throw in Price's 3.99 ERA from 2016 in those games we are suddenly a much better team. Ordinarily the front office would have to make a trade to upgrade this spot, but since Price is on his way back the Sox will be adding a former Cy Young winner to their rotation without having to sacrifice any resources.
Unfortunately his return isn't off to a great start. Price made his first rehab start with the Paw Sox yesterday and it didn't go too well. The 31-year-old was supposed to throw 85-90 pitches but instead he got pulled after two innings and 65 pitches. He allowed three runs on five hits in two innings but also struck out four. This wasn't an ideal start but it was also Price's first game action since last October and he was going against guys who have been playing for two months. What's more important for Price is getting a feel for his pitches.
I remain optimistic about Price's chances of producing in Boston this year. The biggest reason for this is that he's going to be such a gigantic upgrade over what we've gotten from our fifth starters this year. Since he's still building up his arm strength he will likely improve as the season goes on as well. It's unrealistic to expect his first start in the majors this year to be lights out, but by the end of June he should be pitching like a legitimate number two starter. That'll give the Sox one more month to determine what they need at the trade deadline. If Price can help stabilize the rotation that'll be one less position Dave Dombrowski will have to go shopping for.