The Tampa Bay Rays signed David Price to a one-year deal for $10 million earlier in the week, thus avoiding arbitration and delaying for at least one season before he hits the open market. The 2012 Cy Young Award winner no doubt will see a fierce bidding war for his services as his power repertoire has now firmly elevated him into a top five pitcher in both regular and fantasy baseball. So with the 2013 season getting closer and closer, let's take a moment to discuss Price's fantasy baseball outlook.
As I noted in the above paragraph, Price is coming off a Cy Young winning season when he won 20 games while pitching to a 2.56 ERA and 1.10 WHIP while striking out 205 batters in 211.1 innings. The former number 1 pick overall in the 2007 clearly is as good as any pitcher in baseball and is a slam dunk choice to be the ace of any fantasy baseball roster this season. Looking a bit deeper into Price's game, he is every bit a power strikeout pitcher, having just posted his second straight 200-K season. Count on Price reaching that level again in 2013 as he continued to baffle opposing hitters with a 98-mph fastball and sick complementary stuff. Also looking at Price's career trajectory, he has lowered his WHIP three straight season now, going from 1.19 to 1.14 to 1.10. Both his walk rate and hit rate have slowly come down since his rookie season as Price continued his development into a stud pitcher. At only 28 years old in 2013, Price actually has some more room to improve which is scary to even comprehend. Another season of an ERA below 3.00 thus is likely in the cards.
When it comes to Price, there is very little we are concerned with. He has been very durable throughout his young career, having had next to nothing when it comes to elbow or shoulder problems. The biggest thing we could quibble with is the fact Price pitches in the roughest division in the baseball in the AL East. That obviously hasn't hampered him too much given his stats. With free agency looming and the thrifty Rays not likely being able to re-sign him, there is the chance Price could sign on with an NL team which would shoot up his strikeouts and further lower his ERA and WHIP. In that scenario Price could wind up being the best pitcher in the game.
All in all, David Price has now graduated into top five fantasy baseball starting pitcher status and all that goes with it. After being able to snag Price as a lower priced ace the last few seasons, those days are now over for yours truly which means he won't be on any of our rosters given our penchant for not investing too high a draft pick in a starter. However Price is as good as anyone in the game and the return should be significant if you do decide on going this route during your draft.
2013 PROJECTION: 20-6 2.74 ERA 1.09 WHIP 208 K