When David Price opted out from playing the 2020 MLB season in early July, the decision was entirely understandable. Probably even rational.
Did anyone believe baseball could play a season when COVID-19 testing was still unreliable, players were testing positive, and games were being played at home ballparks instead of a bubble setup?
But MLB has now played through almost two-thirds of the 60-game campaign. COVID outbreaks have been controlled and teams are following protocols to prevent infections and spread. Barring something unexpected, baseball will finish this season.
And right now, Price's Dodgers team looks like a heavy favorite to win the World Series. Could that persuade the left-hander to opt back in for September and the postseason?
This is not intended to diminish the reasons Price felt opting out was necessary. He didn't go into specifics when announcing his decision, but said his health and his family's health compelled the choice. If any of his family are at a greater risk for contracting COVID, being in a clubhouse environment and traveling could still be dangerous.
However, if Price is feeling the itch of competition and believes it's safe, what are the chances he could return? Reporters posed this question to Dodgers executive Andrew Friedman in a conference call Monday and he didn't rule out such a move.
Expecting Price to carry a starter's workload probably isn't realistic. Has he been working to build his stamina and stretch himself out? Preparing on a truncated timetable has resulted in several pitchers getting injured, including Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber.
The Dodgers might not need Price as a starter anyway. The rotation looks full with Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, and Julio Urias with Alex Wood also available.
But what about using Price out of the bullpen? The Dodgers already have lefties Caleb Ferguson, Victor Gonzalez, Adam Kolarek and Jake McGee pitching well, with Wood just back from six weeks on the IL.
Price could be an improvement there, but he's also potentially better than a situational reliever. He could be a piggyback starter. Beginning a later inning, he could be a shutdown thrower giving opposing batters a tough look.
The commissioner would have to approve Price returning, with both MLB and the players' union agreeing to such a move. But those are procedural considerations. Why wouldn't this be approved? And what would the Dodgers (or Price) have to lose?
Ian Casselberry watchdogs sports media for Awful Announcing. He's covered baseball for SB Nation, Yahoo Sports and MLive, and was one of Bleacher Report's first lead MLB writers. Please follow Ian on Twitter @iancass and give him a listen at The Podcass.