In 2020, David Price famously came to the Dodgers in the Jeter Downs trade from Boston, on a seven-year $217-million contract, for which Boston paid half. 2022 was the last year of this contract. In 2022, Price represented that rarity in baseball: the old man in a profession of the young. Price was solid but not spectacular in 2022, usually appearing a couple of times a week to provide bridge coverage to high-leverage arms like Evan Phillips.
Since coming over from Boston, even with injuries to the starting staff, Price has essentially been penciled in as a reliever. Price was not seen as an option to return to the rotation, seemingly content to let younger pitchers like Tyler Anderson and Mitch White have their opportunities. As Price told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register in June:
“I like these young guys getting their starts,” said Price, who [had] a 3.38 ERA in 18 relief appearances, mostly in low-leverage situations. “I like them being able to get their numbers up so they can go to arbitration and they can get their money. I got mine.
“I like seeing these young guys go out there and try and establish themselves. I love watching Mitch White pitch. He’s got good stuff. That’s what he needs. He needs to pitch in the big leagues, not pitch in Triple-A. That’s a waste of time. He needs to be in the big leagues pitching.”
While with the Dodgers, Price was the exemplar of a singular motto pitching: he is giving it everything he’s got. Frankly, I am surprised that the nickname “Scotty” was not used for Price, which seems like a missed opportunity in retrospect.
But while he gave it all he had, sporadic stints on the injured list while being content with what he was able to give were the themes of his likely final season with the Dodgers. Price made 40 appearances in the 2022 season, of which 34 of them were for an inning or more (but never two, topping out at 1⅔ innings three times).
Price started his year in the Dodgers bullpen, appearing for the first time on a freezing rainy night in Minneapolis on April 12. Price made five appearances before going on the injured list on April 24 for testing positive for COVID-19 — after spending the past two years trying to avoid the virus, going as far as opting out of play in 2020.
About a month later, on May 17, Price was activated and made another 14 appearances, mostly appearing in middle relief. At the end of June, Price had pitched 19⅔ innings with a 3.20 ERA and 24 strikeouts. On June 30, Price was placed on the family emergency list.
On July 3, Price returned to active duty, ending the Ian Gibaut era. Around this time, Price spoke with Plunkett of The Orange County Register seemingly confirming the widely known belief that Price would retire at the end of his current contract. Price would make 19 additional appearances through the end of August, again, primarily in middle relief.
On September 4, Price returned to the injured list with left wrist inflammation and missed most of the month of September. Price returned to the active roster on September 29, a move that was overlooked because Yency Almonte was also activated on the same day. That night, Price earned his second save of the year in the regular season finale against the Padres, with some commentary from Joe Davis that did not age well at all.
Price’s final appearance in 2022 was the following night in Los Angeles: a scoreless inning of work in a 10-1 drubbing of Colorado. Price was left off the postseason roster.
While Price has not formally declared he will retire and denied reports that he was going to retire in mid-September, At times like these, it is easy to forget the pedigree that made Price worth such a massive contract all those years ago: the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, five All-Star Games (2010-12, 2014, 2015), a Cy Young in 2012 (plus two other second-place finishes), the AL Comeback Player of the Year in 2018, and a World Series ring with Boston in 2018.
Price’s tenure with the Dodgers has likely come to an end. I was fortunate enough to see David Price in person five times in 2022. It was fascinating to watch this professional work. Most players would lack the self-awareness to come to terms with their limited window to play in professional baseball. However, Price always conducted himself as a professional and was never anything other than a good teammate.
To conclude this review, once again, Plunkett’s conversation with Price on June 29:
...Price said he can walk away satisfied that he has accomplished everything he wanted to in the game – well, almost everything.
“Absolutely – other than winning a Silver Slugger,” said the career .123 hitter, again with a hearty laugh.
Stats: 2-0, 2 saves, 2.45 ERA, 3.83 xERA, 3.88 FIP, 40 G, 40⅓ IP, 9 BB, 37 K, 1.165 WHIP
Salary: $32 million (Dodgers were responsible for $16 million)
Game of the year
Picking a game of the year for a low-leverage reliever is hard, but we will go with August 5 at home against the Padres where he recorded five outs and struck out three batters, matching his season highs for strikeouts and outing length for the year.
Price is a free agent and has not formally declared his intention to retire as of this essay.