When the Red Sox lowballed Jon Lester in the spring of 2014 – and then were outbid by the Chicago Cubs after the season – Boston owner John Henry thought it was foolish to invest in a long-term contract with a pitcher over 30.

Now we have David Price, 30, accepting a $217 million, seven-year contract with Henry’s Red Sox, heading into the 2016 season.





Price will turn 37 during the last year of this contract, in 2022, when he will be making $32 million. Who knows if his arm will hold out that long?

Doesn’t matter.

Think Henry needed much convincing to go after Price? All new Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski had to do was show a few highlights from last year – the so-called “season without an ace.”

Take a peek at the July 10 game against the Yankees, and there is Clay Buchholz coming out with another injury – this one a sore elbow. He was shut down for the year.

Then Henry could have reviewed the July 29 game against the White Sox, when Rick Porcello lasted only two innings, giving up 10 hits and six runs.

Then there were the numbers – not the nine figures needed to sign an ace, but the 78-84 record, which followed 71-91. Back-to-back last-place finishes for an organization that prides itself on being one of the best in baseball.

What was Henry going to do, throw out the same rotation and expect different results? That would make for a great marketing slogan: We HOPE We Will Be Better.

So Boston needed a star pitcher and Price was available, at an inflated price that bulged even more because the Cardinals and Cubs were moving in on him.

Is the Price signing an insult to Lester, who turned down Boston for a better offer from the Cubs (six years, $155 million)? Retired Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis thought so. He tweeted out a message Tuesday night: “Congrats to David Price on a new deal but the message it sends to Jon Lester hurts …”

I don’t think it was an insult, but a necessary change of philosophy. Henry could have remained stubborn on long deals but, instead, he realized the only way to get an ace for 2016 was to jump back into the financial insanity of free-agent shopping.

And, truth be told, the Red Sox likely ended up with a better pitcher.

Lester, who turns 32 in January, went 11-12 with a 3.34 ERA for the Cubs. He can still rack up the strikeouts – with 207 in 205 innings (9.1 per nine innings).

Lester’s average fastball velocity actually increased from 91.5 mph in 2014 to 92 mph. His WAR ranking was 3.1. Lester also had a much-publicized problem with holding runners on base. He allowed 44 stolen bases in 55 attempts.

Price, who turns 31 next August, was a combined 18-5, 2.45 with Detroit and Toronto last year. He struck out 225 in 2201/3 innings (9.2 per nine). His velocity also increased from 2014 to 2015 – 93.2 mph to 94.2. His WAR rating was 5.9.

Only two runners tried to steal on Price, both unsuccessfully.

Factor in Price’s age and his ability to thrive at Fenway (1.95 ERA) and in the American League East (49-21), and he could turn out to be just what the Red Sox need.

One big difference in the players is their playoff performance. In 11 playoff starts for the Red Sox, Lester was 6-4 with a 1.97 ERA and helped Boston win two titles. Price is 2-7 in the playoffs with a 5.12 ERA.

Price is also judged to be an excellent teammate – based on the reactions from former mates to his signing. Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman praised Price on Twitter for “watching and critiquing my bullpens. Treating everyone with class and respect. Putting your teammates first. Showing up early and staying late …”

There was a concern about an old feud between Price and David Ortiz – Price criticized Ortiz in 2013 for his slow home run trot, and then beaned Ortiz in 2014, prompting Ortiz to say. “I have no respect for him.”

But in a story on espn.com Wednesday, Ortiz dismissed any previous issues with Price, saying “No problems. All that’s in the past. Now he’s my partner.”

Speaking of Ortiz, the announcement of his retirement after the 2016 season gave Boston a little financial flexibility (Ortiz had an option for 2017 worth between $10 to $16 million).

And while Boston has some bad contracts to deal with ($66 million left for Hanley Ramirez and $70 million more for Pablo Sandoval), it is in good shape financially with its youthful talent.

It will be at least until 2020 until several of Boston’s young players become free agents. They include Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, Brock Holt, Blake Swihart, Eduardo Rodriguez, Jackie Bradley Jr., Christian Vazquez, Travis Shaw and Henry Owens.

Dombrowski may not be done putting together the 2016 Red Sox. He already obtained the needed closer (Craig Kimbrel) and a fourth outfielder (Chris Young).

The Red Sox could use a dependable No. 2 starter. Dombrowski has prospects to trade and maybe a starter (Wade Miley?)

On a conference call Wednesday to announce the Young signing, Dombrowski said, “I think out major moves are done. But when you go into the winter meetings (next week), you never know what happens.”