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Price's departure from the Blue Jays hardly comes as a surprise, but the fact that he's heading to a division rival will add to the sting. The runner-up for the AL Cy Young Award was the most sought after pitcher on the free-agent market, and Price's proven track record over eight seasons has resulted in a historic pay day.
Toronto technically remained interested in Price, but the reality of the situation was that his departure was expected all along. The Blue Jays recently addressed their rotation concerns by re-signing Marco Estrada, trading for Jesse Chavez and signing free agent J.A. Happ to a three-year contract.
The Blue Jays continued to look for upgrades, but that was never expected to involve a pitcher the caliber of Price. The big question now is whether Toronto has the resources to pursue someone from the second tier of free agents which includes Yovani Gallardo, Hisashi Iwakuma, Scott Kazmir, Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake.
President Mark Shapiro has not publicly disclosed the payroll parameters his team will be operating under next year, but it's expected to be in a similar range to 2015. The Blue Jays finished the year with a payroll of approximately $140 million, and they currently have an estimated $130 million on the books for 2016, with an additional $5 million for pre-arbitration players.
Toronto could create additional financial flexibility by either non-tendering or trading left fielder Ben Revere. In addition to one more starter, the Blue Jays also need at least one or two relievers and a utility middle infielder.
Price was acquired prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline for a package of prospects, including promising left-hander Daniel Norris. It was a high price to pay for a player who was all but assured to leave at the end of the year. However, in Toronto's case, it appears to be a good use of prospect capital.
The Blue Jays were one game under .500 in late July when they went all-in by trading for Price, Troy Tulowitzki, LaTroy Hawkins, Revere and Mark Lowe in a series of major moves. Toronto went 43-18 the rest of the way to run away with the division and secure the club's first postseason appearance since 1993.
Price was one of the main reasons behind the Blue Jays' success as he went 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA in 11 starts. He came as advertised from start until finish, but there were some red flags during the postseason. Amid talk of fatigue and tipping pitches, Price went 0-2 in three starts, with his lone win coming in a lopsided relief appearance.
The Blue Jays chose right-hander Marcus Stroman over Price for Game 5 of the AL Division Series against the Rangers. There also were rumblings Price didn't appreciate his role, but he spoke out against those rumors and seemed to enjoy his time in the city. The late struggles in October clearly didn't impact his value on the open market.