Dodgers manager Dave Roberts unsure whether David Price will play in 2021 MLB season

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2020 World Series without David Price, and there’s at least a chance they won’t have the left-hander again in 2021. On Thursday, manager Dave Roberts told reporters he’s unsure whether Price will play next season.

“David is very in tune with what’s going on, is very intelligent,” Roberts told reporters, including Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “… As things become more clear, David will make a choice for him and his family.”

Price, 35, was among the most prominent players to opt out of the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because he is not considered a high-risk individual, he was not paid nor did he accrue service time. Los Angeles acquired Price from the Red Sox in the Mookie Betts trade just before spring training.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal spoke to Price and several other players who opted out of the season in early September. Here’s what Price told Rosenthal about his plans for next year:

“To try and get back out there (in 2020), the negatives would definitely outweigh the positives,” Price said. “I don’t want to make a couple of appearances and throw the ball just fine, then something happens and I have to shut down — I don’t want that to make me miss 2021. My focus right now is to be 100 percent ready to go in 2021 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.”  

MLB and the MLBPA must still agree to protocols for the 2021 season — there’s a chance the season will not start on time — and it stands to reason players will again be allowed to opt out. It could be a while until the two sides reach an agreement, however. The longer they take to finalize plans for the season, the longer players will wait before deciding to opt out. 

In 2019, Price threw 107 1/3 innings with a 4.28 ERA around a wrist issue with the Red Sox. An added benefit of sitting out 2020 is giving the wrist extra time to heal, as well as any other nagging aches and pains. Price has over 2,000 big-league innings on his arm. A one-year breather could rejuvenate him.

Of course, the Dodgers are so deep in pitching that they won the World Series not just without Price, but also without Kenta Maeda (AL Cy Young runner-up) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (AL Cy Young third-place finisher). Maeda was traded away in February and Ryu left as a free agent.

Los Angeles will build its 2021 rotation around Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw, with Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May, and Julio Urias the odds-on favorites to fill the Nos. 3-5 slots. Mitchell White and Dennis Santana will be in the mix as well.

Price is owed $32 million in 2021 and again in 2022, with the Red Sox paying half each year. Presumably, he will not be paid if he opts out again.


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