BOSTON -- The fact that the Red Sox are ready to sign David Price to a record-setting contract for a pitcher (seven years, $217 million pending a physical) demonstrates more than a desire to get out of last place in the American League East and an admission that going into 2015 without an ace wasn't good for business.
Take a closer look at how much the overall state of the franchise has improved over the past 12 months and it becomes apparent why the Red Sox are now willing to make the type of financial commitment to Price they didn't extend to Jon Lester.
The emergence of young talent -- both at the Major League level and in the Minors -- is the biggest impetus for the club believing now is the time it can go all in for Price.
There's probably a display board in one of the executive offices on 4 Yawkey Way with a baseball diamond that highlights all the cost-controlled players at many different spots, whetting the club's appetite for what could be in store for the coming years.
The one thing that was missing was the power-pitching ace, and Price will slide into that spot.
The Red Sox could max out on an ace and a stud closer in Craig Kimbrel because they should have several bargains in the everyday lineup, not to mention a potential future ace in Eduardo Rodriguez.
Trading Andrew Miller for Rodriguez was one of former general manager Ben Cherington's best moves in his time with the club. The 22-year-old was dominant at times last year, and he only figures to get better under the tutelage of Price. Rodriguez will come at a modest cost over the next three seasons, until he becomes eligible for arbitration.
Xander Bogaerts, who was shaky in 2014, developed into a star in '15. The shortstop had 196 hits this past season while playing superb defense, and he is under the club's control through '19.
Outfielder Mookie Betts showed flashes of brilliance in 2014, but he truly proved his worth over a full season in '15. Like Bogaerts, Betts is just 23 years old, and he will probably continue to improve in the coming years. The Red Sox have cost control over the exciting right-handed hitter with the lightning-quick hands and fast legs through '20.
Jackie Bradley Jr., perhaps the best defensive outfielder in the game, will be a real asset if he can hit like he did in August. Though it seems like Bradley has been around for a while, he is under the club's control for another five seasons.
Most clubs would be happy with one promising catcher. Boston has two in Blake Swihart (under club control through 2021) and the cannon-armed Christian Vazquez, who is coming off Tommy John surgery.
Though Dustin Pedroia isn't cheap, the veteran second baseman's contract doesn't expire until after 2021, meaning the Red Sox shouldn't have to go shopping at that position either.
David Ortiz, the club's marquee player, will earn $16 million in 2016, but his salary comes off the books for good when he retires after the season. That's a good thing, because Boston will probably need some money to replace his production.
And even though Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski had to part with four prospects to bring Kimbrel on board, he still has plenty of promise remaining in the farm system, which is ranked by many experts as one of the strongest in baseball, if not the best.
MLBPipeline.com ranks Yoan Moncada (infielder), Rafael Devers (infielder), Brian Johnson (lefty starter), Andrew Benintendi (outfielder) and Michael Kopech (righty starter) as the top five prospects in the system, respectively. The next wave is also impressive: Anderson Espinoza (righty), Deven Marrero (shortstop), Michael Chavis (third base) and Sam Travis (first base).
If the Red Sox didn't feel so comfortable about their projections of the 25-man roster over the next three to five years, they probably couldn't have justified the price for their new ace.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.