The Chicago Cubs wanted to sign David Price, but they had their limits, and that’s probably a big reason he’s not on the Windy City’s North Side right now.
The Cubs are having a busy and productive offseason, but they did lose out on the lefthanded ace, who signed a seven-year deal worth a reported $217 million with the Boston Red Sox.
The Cubs were in the mix, though, and many thought Price ultimately might pick Chicago. The Cubs are coming off one of their best seasons in franchise history, a move to the National League would have allowed Price to hit, and signing with the Cubs would have reunited Price with former manager Joe Maddon. However, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein admitted those factors couldn’t equal the difference in salary offers between the Cubs and Red Sox, and to a lesser extent, the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I think we ended up kind of a distant third,” Epstein revealed Wednesday night on WEEI Radio in Boston. “I think we were $50 million short or something along those lines, so his desire to maybe be in the National League and his affinity for Chicago, I don’t think it would make up that kind of a difference.”
The money is a major difference-maker, but Epstein also yielded that Boston offers plenty of benefits for Price — in addition to the reported $217 million.
“There was maybe a natural instinct to think that because he had played so many tough games against the Red Sox and been across the field from them, that it wouldn’t be a place that he could see himself,” Epstein explained. “But if you really look at the elements that are important to him, so many of them are important to the Red Sox — namely, a chance to win, a terrific fan base, a great ballpark, relative proximity to Nashville (Price’s hometown), so it’s a great fit. I think Red Sox fans will love David Price and he’ll really enjoy his experience there.”
After missing out on Price, the Cubs instead turned in another, much cheaper direction by signing John Lackey. With Lackey coming off one of his best seasons even at the age of 36, Epstein saw the former Red Sox pitcher and his relative affordability as a suitable Plan B, calling the plan a “no-brainer for us.”
“There was no regression whatsoever with his stuff. It was high-end stuff with great command, so that was attractive to us,” Epstein said on WEEI. “And then he became even more attractive when we saw the length of some of these deals, the size of some of the deals, the escalation in the market, the fact that a pitcher of that caliber was available on a two-year deal was really attractive to us.”
Thumbnail photo via Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports Images
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