While the rest of Major League Baseball embarked on a mad spending spree at the recent Winter Meetings in San Diego, the Red Sox mainly worked around the edges.
In fact, their activity was limited to the final day of the meetings, when they made a Rule 5 draft selection and later added two depth pieces to the roster -- one in the infield, the other for the back of their rotation.
Then again, we knew from the outset that this was going to be a winter of (mostly) subtraction rather than addition as the Sox strive to cut payroll and get under the first luxury tax threshold.
Toward that end, the team will need to slash one significant salary from their roster. Having determined that it's better -- for now, at least -- to hold onto free-agent-to-be Mookie Betts rather than accept 50 cents on the dollar in return, the Sox seem likely to trade starter David Price instead.
That makes sense on several fronts. Unlike Betts, who is eligible to hit the market after next season, Price remains under control for three more seasons, giving an acquiring team plenty of time to recoup its investment. Also, the financial explosion bestowed on high-end pitching (Stephen Strasburg, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler) will undoubtedly trickle down to the next level of free-agent starters (Madison Bumgarner, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dallas Keuchel) -- like Price, all lefthanded and all solid No. 2-type starters when healthy -- and make Price's remaining money ($96 million over three seasons) seem less outrageous.
Already, a number of teams have been identified as having expressed an interest in Price. Here's a look at the contenders, the likelihood of a fit and what the Sox might reasonably be able to command in return:
1. SAN DIEGO PADRES
The Padres desperately need a veteran starter to lead their rotation. They had hoped to entice Strasburg to return to his hometown, but weren't prepared to spend in excess of $200 million. San Diego would represent a soft landing spot for Price - big, pitcher-friendly ballpark with little pressure generated from the fan base and a small media corps.
San Diego would like to unload