Welp, scratch one name off the Dodgers’ depth chart. David Price has opted out of playing in the 2020 season, citing COVID-19 and the health of his family, which is as good a reason as any.
In a statement posted to his Instagram page Saturday, the veteran left-hander explained his reasoning:
“After considerable thought and discussion with my family and the Dodgers, I have decided it is in the best interest of my health and my family’s health for me to not play this season. I will miss my teammates and will be cheering for them throughout the season and on to a World Series victory. I’m sorry I won’t be playing for you this year, but look forward to representing you next year.”
The club responded with a show of support:
“The Dodgers fully support David’s decision to sit out the 2020 season,” the Dodgers said. “We have been in constant contact with David and we understand how much this deliberation weighed on him and his family. We know he’ll be rooting hard for the club every day and look forward to having him back with us in 2021.”
My initial reaction, independent of the obvious understanding in this uncertain time and my respect for the starter’s decision, is that this is going to hurt. But how can you separate the Dodgers’ news of the day from the reality of the situation that Price—and all of us to the degree that the we must make these types of decisions—made the right call? You can’t, really.
My second reaction is the feeling of sadness. The news brings the seriousness of the crisis home in one more way. One of many, unfortunately. I’m sad for Price, I’m sad for Los Angeles and I’m sad for the world.
My third reaction is this: If there is a team that can handle the loss of a starting pitcher—and a former Cy Young Award winner at that—it’s the Dodgers. As we sit here on the Fourth of July, the club’s starting pitcher depth chart looks like this: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, Alex Wood, Dustin May, Ross Stripling, Tony Gonsolin. Seven deep is better than most and pretty damn good.
Expanding further, potential starters also include Caleb Ferguson, Jimmy Nelson, Dennis Santana, Josiah Gray (not necessarily in that order) and a number of trade possibilities. If the Dodgers were to acquire a starter, I imagine they’d wait to see how close baseball actually comes to opening in 2 1/2 weeks. My guess is that Andrew Friedman and company will consider all options (including free agency) and eventually decide to go with what they have in place, which is plenty.
On the plus side—and yes, I’m grasping at straws here—is that the Dodgers’ rotation just got more right-handed. That’s assuming that Ferguson doesn’t get the job out of the gate to replace Price. On the plus side, the notion of May as a number five starter should frighten the rest of the National League West. On the plus side, May gets more of a chance to develop than he would have with Price in the fold. On the plus side, May (who’s thrown between 132 2/3 and 140 innings in each of his three years as a professional) gets to throw as many innings as he can. No small thing.
But like I said, I’m grasping at straws. The Dodgers are a better team with David Price than without. But I can’t say I blame the man for his decision to opt out. More will make the same choice.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.