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Yankees 2016 Potential Free Agent Target: David Price

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

2015 Statistics: 2.45 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 9.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 220.1 innings

2016 Age: 30

Position: Left-handed starter

David Price is finally a free agent and he's probably the best pitcher on the open market, but that doesn't mean he's automatically the right fit for the Yankees. Pulling the trigger on a contract with Price is actually not as easy a call as you might think. After being traded during the season, he won't cost a draft pick to sign, but his contract will be huge in both dollar value and length. The amount of innings he's already logged before the age of 30 might sound like a positive, but could also end up being a negative. The debate could go either way.

Last offseason, the Washington Nationals signed Max Scherzer to a seven-year, $210 million contract in order to add the best pitcher in the world to their rotation. They will be paying him $22 million a year, plus a $50 million signing bonus and a back-loaded contract that will have them paying deferred payments through 2028. The team will only have him under contract through 2021! Simply put, the Yankees cannot afford to pay for a contract of that magnitude at this stage. These are the New York Yankees and they should be able to afford anything, but paying that much for one player while they attempt to lower payroll until the likes of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez are gone, might be more than a little reckless.

Consider that Price's contract will, in all likelihood, eclipse Scherzer's monstrosity and it's easy to see why Brian Cashman and company would be more than a little hesitant to sign up for such a pact. Last year, Fangraph's crowdsourcing project projected a $153.8 million contract for Scherzer, coming in at $56 million below the actual final deal. This year, they have Price making $190 million, and if their system is as off as it was last year, we could be looking at a contract of $246 million. So that's anywhere between $27-$35 million a year if it's a seven-year deal, and if you were to up it to eight, you'd have a 38-year-old David Price by the end of it, which is likely too long for a guy who relies on a top-20 fastball. Could you really imagine the Yankees paying for all that at this point?

So far he's been pretty healthy throughout his career. He hasn't had an elbow issue since 2008 and last went on the disabled list in 2013 with a strained triceps. He's been pretty healthy for a guy who has thrown so many innings before the age of 30, but for how much longer will he be able to keep it up? He's actually lucky just to be this effective after throwing 1,441 innings when you consider that Matt Cain threw 1,536.2 by his age-27 season before falling off a cliff. Tim Lincecum threw 1,028 innings by 27 and has been bad since then. Brandon Webb threw 1,315 through his age-29 season before breaking. Johan Santana was up to 1,543 innings before turning 30 and then fell apart. There are numerous cases of young, effective starters taking on large amounts of work and then fading out.

Then there's CC Sabathia, who threw 2,127 innings before turning 30 and still remained effective for a few more seasons before things went bad. Of course, there's also Zack Greinke, who was at 1,669, and Cole Hamels, who was at 1,596.2, in 2013 before their age-30 seasons. Then there's also Felix Hernandez, Johnny Cueto, Max Scherzer and Jon Lester to look at as still having pitching arms as they head into, and beyond, age-30. It really just seems like pitching is a dangerous career in baseball, so if you survive, you make money, and if you're effective, you make even more of it. There's no real way of telling which pitchers will thrive and which will break down. David Price, like any other pitcher, is a gamble; maybe less than most, but you're relying on a lot of things going right.

The thing, though, is that the Yankees could really use him. I mean, sure, every team in baseball could use him, but the Yankees don't exactly need him. The Toronto Blue Jays didn't need David Price when they traded for him at the deadline last year. It made them better, yes, but certainly not good enough to win the World Series. Same goes for the Dodgers with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. For a team like the Yankees, David Price would be a luxury. They already have a full rotation, one that could use an upgrade, but not one that is filled with holes. Still, the idea of having Price and Masahiro Tanaka at the top of the rotation–and without it costing a draft pick–is something that can't be outright ignored. You have to explore the possibilities and see what develops.

In a perfect world, the Yankees have already signed David Price to be their stud for the next several years. He'd dominate for the next four, but then maybe he starts to decline a bit after that. In all likelihood, he stays healthy and effective throughout the life of his contract, but you really never know. It would be easy to simply say he's a five-time All-star, a former Cy Young winner, he's led the league in ERA and strikeouts, and now we should sign him. It's never that easy. If the Yankees are locked into the idea of lowering payroll, then there's no way he makes sense now when no one of significance is coming off the books. However, when you have one year left before Teixeira is gone and the free agent class is so much worse in 2017, there's no reason why they can't make it work for one season. In my mind, the Yankees should seriously go after Price with whatever they feel comfortable paying, but not get into a bidding war if they can help it. He'll cost a lot, but it might actually be worth the risk.