One thing is abundantly clear in the North Side of Chicago — the Cubs need more pitching. An extremely popular theory around the rumor mill is that the Cubs plan to aggressively pursue David Price, and for good reason. Price is coming off another excellent season that started in Detroit and ended in Toronto after the team he was traded to, the Blue Jays, was bounced out of the playoffs by the Kansas City Royals. One could argue that the Cubs signing the veteran is a no-brainer, but there is more than one reason why the Cubs signing Price may not be such a good idea.
Pro: I’m going to get the easy stuff out of the way early. It’s a good idea because the guy has been an absolute beast for most of his career, and this year was no different. After going 18-5 with a 2.45 ERA for the Jays and Tigers, Price placed his name yet again in the American League Cy Young race. Pair that with his knack for striking out opposing batters with the best of them (245 this year), and the guy seems like a perfect fit for a Cubs rotation that needs to overpower opposing offenses more due to liabilities in their defense, such as Kyle Schwarber.
Con: Fly ball pitchers don’t tend to do particularly well at Wrigley, and Price is definitely a fly ball pitcher when hitters make contact. Price ranked 28th in all of baseball in fly ball percentage (33.01% of all balls hitters made contact with ended up in the air) and, when combined with the unpredictable wind in Chicago, that could spell disaster for a guy like Price.
Pro: He’s worked with Joe Maddon before and he would slide into this rotation without much of a hitch. Any time a manager like Maddon can get his hands on more talent it’s bad news for the rest of the league , even more so when the addition of Price would potentially slide Jon Lester down to the third spot in the rotation. A playoff rotation of Arrieta, Price, Lester, and whoever else the Cubbies can snag this offseason (like Jordan Zimmerman) would be absolutely terrifying for any team they might face. The move(s) would make an average rotation into potentially one of the best in all of baseball.
Con: He’s going to cost… A LOT. After yet another Cy Young-caliber season Price is in line for a HUGE payday. The Cubs definitely have cash to burn, but the thought of blowing most of it on a single player (again) seems kind of silly with other quality options on the market like Zimmerman, Jeff Sarmardzija, John Lackey, or even another top-tier guy like Johnny Cueto who might not command quite as much money.
Pro: It would give the Cubs another veteran arm to help Kyle Schwarber behind the plate. It’s obvious that Schwarber isn’t ready to be an everyday outfielder in the Major Leagues. Metrics have him projected to be a bigger contributor behind the plate than in the outfield, and the Cubs need to groom him as such. A guy like Price could easily work with Schwarber during practices and in games when Miguel Montero needs a rest and help him evolve into a catcher that knows how to elevate and develop pitchers by working with some of the best in the business.
Con: Price has never pitched in the National League. If this was the opposite and he was moving to the AL then this wouldn’t be as much of an issue, but Price has thirty-seven career at-bats and a total of two hits throughout his seven years in the big leagues. Not much is expected of pitchers at the plate, but Price’s lack of experience hitting in the bigs could have Jon Lester-like repercussions. This Cubs team can be very hot and cold offensively and tends to rely on the long ball too much. This year, they’re going to have to play more small ball and having a pitcher that’s not capable of bunting a man to second base could be a huge Achilles heel.
The Cubs signing David Price would ultimately be a decent move, but not a great one in my opinion. He would definitely be an upgrade to the rotation, but not without having other negative impacts to the team. I think Theo would be better suited signing a couple of guys like Lackey and Zimmerman to cheaper deals and spending the money saved on re-signing Fowler or another option in center field. The bullpen could also use some work. So what do you think? Is Price right for the Cubs? Only time will tell, but I’m not convinced.