Why David Price trade might be holding up Red Sox

Tuesday gave us the first wave of David Price trade rumors from the Winter Meetings in San Diego.

The Boston Red Sox continue to pursue ways to shed salary, and multiple teams have targeted starter David Price, sources tell ESPN. He is owed $96 million over the next three years. Red Sox could either attach player with value or potentially pay down some of Price's remaining $.

— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 11, 2019

No progress for #RedSox in trade discussions involving David Price, sources tell The Athletic. #Padres, who badly want to moves Wil Myers, are among clubs Boston has spoken with. Pads extremely active, involved in a large, almost dizzying, number of pursuits.

— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2019

Whether or not a Price deal gets done, the takeaway should be simply that the Red Sox are doing what we thought they would: Exploring a trade for what was the highest-paid pitcher in baseball before this week rolled around.

The impetus for a Price trade isn't complicated. The Red Sox need financial flexibility and offloading the final three years, $90 million on Price's deal would allow for the clouds to part in that respect. It is simply a case of risk vs. reward. As valuable as the lefty can be when healthy, can the Red Sox better allocate that money owed him to something move valuable and still find a reasonable substitute in the rotation? Judging by the Sox' approach, identifying their way of thinking shouldn't be that difficult.

But while the initial report from ESPN.com would suggest that this is lining up as a turn-key process for Chaim Bloom and Co. it's still hard to imagine a Price trade without plenty of imagination and discomfort. Not only would you be moving on from a pitcher that is supposed to be counted on to help keep pace with the Yankees' juggernaut, but the idea of having to include a young, controllable asset in order to get another team involved is a tricky predicament. The Red Sox can tell the world that Price -- who didn't pitch past Sept. 1 -- is ready to hit the 2020 season running but the reality is that the 34-year-old represents a lot of expensive uncertainty.

All things considered, it is Bloom's biggest and most important task this offseason.

If no Price deal is available the Red Sox would seemingly be paralyzed when it came to adding anything that costs money. A Jackie Bradley Jr. deal -- which, because of his $11 million price tag is seemingly more difficult to execute than in the last few years -- helps the Sox get to their threshold goal but certainly doesn't open John Henry's checkbook. After that you have Mookie Betts, who is likely in line to make around $27 million in arbitration this offseason. We've already gone through that exercise: Unless a sweetheart deal emerges the outfielder's current value to the Red Sox is highest staying put. Nathan Eovaldi? With a very cloudy track record -- which includes some uneasy injury issues -- getting a team to take on the pitcher's money based off projections would seem even more difficult than the Price scenario.

So we wait. Little to no free-agent rumors and just some very complicated/hard-to-imagine trade rumors. Welcome to the Red Sox' offseason, the one where we all waited so see if a team would take a potential ace off their hands.