When it was reported that David Price needed an MRI on his elbow, Red Sox fans and fantasy players alike were justifiably concerned. When the MRI results were deemed inconclusive and Price was flown out for a second opinion from the ominous Dr. James Andrews, there was even more concern, and it was assumed that Tommy John surgery was inevitable. In a surprising twist, the prognosis from Dr. Andrews was positive, meaning no surgery needed! In lieu of surgery Price will be shut down for 7-10 days minimum before resuming throwing, however in an interview with mlb.com Price said that “There is no timetable.” With all the different changes going on it’s difficult for fantasy players it’s difficult to value Price right now.
Prior to this injury, I had no intention of drafting David Price. He was going as the 10th starter off the board and 42nd overall per Fantasypros consensus ADP, which was higher than I was willing to take him. Price’s dip in velocity, struggles in Boston, and mechanical troubles prompted me to dub him a ticking time bomb in an earlier article I wrote about Chris Archer. Now that he’s narrowly escaped catastrophic injury, I’m interested in potentially adding him to my team. This injury will lower Price’s value substantially, making him perhaps the biggest wildcard come draft day.
In a perfect world we’d all draft the day before opening day and know as much about his situation as possible. Unfortunately, that isn’t always an option. Some of us will be drafting in the next couple weeks and we’ll have to figure out Price’s place on the draft board. When attempting to value Price for your own draft, you need to ask yourself, “How soon am I willing to risk a zero?” Because even though Dr. Andrews didn’t recommend Tommy John surgery on March 3rd, that doesn’t mean that Price is out of the woods yet. No matter what kind of super unique bionic elbow Price claims to have, he’s still a pitcher with over 1600 major league innings that just suffered a major health scare. The elbow soreness is supposed to heal with rest, but even if Price is ready for opening day, we’ve seen spring training injuries snowball and ultimately derail a pitcher’s season, much like what happened to Gerrit Cole last year.
While I embrace risk taking in fantasy baseball, I lean towards performance based risk rather than injury risk, because performance based risk is in the hands of the player and can be corrected. The only reason Price was being drafted ahead of these pitchers in the first place was his reliability, and since that is gone there is no way he should be taken ahead of these pitchers.
The group of pitchers ADP wise that I now believe Price falls into looks something like Kyle Hendricks, Carlos Martinez, Cole Hamels, Zack Grienke, Masahiro Tanaka, Rick Porcello, and Gerrit Cole. Price should slot in somewhere around here, and he has the potential to finish either ahead of all these guys, In a shallow league like a 10 team mixer I’d take Price first, because there will be enough talent on waivers to fill in if things go wrong. In a deeper league the consistency of Cole Hamels or the upside of Carlos Martinez make them both more appealing, but any other pitcher in this tier has either enough risk or lack of upside where I’d just go for Price. Cole, Tanaka, and Grienke have health concerns, and Hendricks and Porcello have regression concerns. I’d tentatively move him between Martinez and Hamels in ADP, which would make him about the 22nd pitcher and 75th player off the board, a 7th round pick in a 12 team league.
It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this situation, but for now I wouldn’t take him much higher than the 7th round. Any earlier is too dicey, because nothing will sink your team faster than a major injury to a high draft pick.
Please direct all questions, comments, and hate mail to @Elliott_TFR