I've been reaching out to other SB Nation writers to gauge the general interest of other teams in acquiring David Price this winter, asking whether they would be interested in making a trade, what that editor thinks would be fair, and then offering a trade proposal of my own.
As we saw last winter with the trade of James Shields, the price on starting pitching can be extraordinarily high, even if most teams are not willing to pay as much. When the Rays sent off their ace, they received a consensus Top-5 prospect and rookie of the year candidate Wil Myers, Top-100 prospect and major league ready starter Jake Odorizzi, a former Top-50 prospect in SP Mike Montgomery, and a mid-level prospect to round things out.
Using these rankings as a barometer, I believe the Rays should be able to net two Top-50 prospects in looking at suitors for David Price, and crafted my trade proposals as such.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: Byron Buxton (No. 1), Miguel Sano (No. 3), RHP Kohl Stewart (No. 30), RHP Alex Meyer (No. 37)
Minnesota certainly has the assets to make a competitive bid, do let's get down to it. Are the Twins interested in acquiring David Price, and do you want them to?
Yes, the Twins are interested in acquiring David Price, and I think they SHOULD be interested; however, I'm not sure their level of interest and mine will be the same.
I imagine their level of interest will be "What does it take to get it done? Oh, that's pretty aggressive for us, we're out." I think they'll want to know what it would take to get it done just so they have an idea - and then use that as a benchmark in exploring other offers.
What do you think would get it done? Do you think the Twins would offer less than what the Rays got for David Price?
I think the Royals overpaid, and that worked out pretty well for you guys. I'm not saying the Twins will offer less, but they won't offer one of their top two guys (Alex Meyer is highly doubtful, too) and might try to make up for it in other ways.
The farm system is deep enough to permit them that luxury. Rookie SP Kyle Gibson (Pre-2013 Baseball America No. 69, MLB.com No. 49), second base prospect Eddie Rosario (borderline Top-100 on both lists) and Kohl Stewart (I'd guess Top-50 or 60).
From my perspective I'm offering Gibson plus four guys in my team's top 10 or 12 prospects for 2014, like OF Max Kepler or OF Adam Brett Walker. We can certainly mix and match, for example, if you'd rather see RHP Jose Berrios (B grade) or infielder Jorge Polanco (B-) over Kepler and Walker.
I can see Berrios cracking the Top-100 this year, and Polanco is going to be 20 years old and pushing for Double-A as a middle infielder who can hit. I already have dreams of Polanco and Rosario being the Minnesota middle infield tandem for the next 6 or 7 years...well, starting in 2015 or 16.
I like that we're already haggling, because I have my own trade proposal:
Twins get: LHSP David Price (2 years) and pieces
Rays get: One of OF Byron Buxton or 3B Miguel Sano, RHP Kohl Stewart, RHP Kyle Gibson, and minor pieces
That's two Top-50, which is what I'm looking for when trading Price, and a starter to balance out my rotation now. Do you say no?
I absolutely say no to that offer.
Buxton & Sano are two of the organization's three best prospects ever, and exchanging them for two years of Price is doing what Kansas City did - blow up the farm for control of a player who won't be around long enough to see you to where you want to be.
If the Royals (or the Twins) were on the verge of contending for a World Series, then things would be different. But there's a long-term plan here that can't be discarded for two years of a pitcher, even if he is the ace we're looking for.
How would you counter?
Gibson is still on the table, as is Stewart - but he'll need to be a PTBNL since he was only drafted last June.
I'm also willing to include German phenom Max Kepler (Twins #8 prospect last season, probably coming up 1 or 2 spots this year), Eddie Rosario OR Brian Dozier, with Danny Santana (Rosario would be ready for 2B in 2015 -- if you want someone MLB-ready who still has years of team control Dozier is a perfectly league-average 2B, and Santana was our #12 prospect last season, likely to be #9 or #10 this year) -- and Adam Walker, a young outfielder with power and upside.
All good pieces. Sickels just released his Twins prospect list for 2014 and here's that trade with how these guys look to him:
Twins get: LHP David Price
Rays get: RHP Kyle Gibson (MLB-ready), RHP Kohl Stewart: (B+), OF Max Kepler (B-), one of 2B Eddie Rosario (B) or 2B Brian Dozier (MLB-ready), and OF Adam Brett Walker (C+/B-)
How do things change if Price is traded with the guarantee he signs an extension? Is Sano on the table then?
See, that's tough. I think in that case, the Twins would be wanting more than just Price in return - giving up years of inexpensive team control on a future superstar, and getting a superstar in return but at $20 million per year - at least - is a hard exchange. There's a lot of high risk in that deal, all being taken on by Minnesota.
That's a hard one, and probably almost impossible to resolve.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: None.
Simple question: do you want the Braves to acquire David Price?
Yes I do. I think the Braves look at themselves as having a short window to compete with a lot of younger players in their arbitration years and the team being relatively cash strapped. The Braves were a great team all year but lacked a top flight starter to help them in the playoffs. Kris Medlen is a solid pitcher but he started game one against Clayton Kershaw. If they added a Price type pitcher they could slot guys like Mike Minor, Medlen, and Julio Teheran down a slot each and the rotation will be a bit more "structured" rather than having a number of number two and three starters.
There seems to be a pretty huge disconnect between what Talking Chop has ranked the top prospects in the Braves system, and Baseball America. Using assets from your team, what do you think would be a fair trade for David Price?
It is a difficult thing to say. I would like to see them move RHP Kris Medlen in a deal for Price, as I think the Rays would want some type of compensation that is ready to perform now and Medlen has proven over the past two years to be a very solid starter.
Other than him you can basically couple two or three of the teams top-five prospects and make the move. One guy I would not want to deal is RHP Lucas Sims, I think he has the potential to be a front end starter and I would not want to see the Braves part ways with him for a two-year rental deal.
Granted the perceived rankings of Major League wide values on prospects, I'd have to start with something like: LHP Alex Wood, RHP Lucas Sims, C Christian Bethancourt, and SS Jose Peraza -- but if you're not dealing Sims, I'd need something more valuable. Here's another go:
Braves get: LHP David Price (2 years)
Rays get: LHP Mike Minor (4 years), 3B Edward Salcedo, C Christian Bethancourt
Fewer moving pieces, and the Rays get more bang for their buck. Do you say no?
I would definitely do that deal if the Braves replaced Minor with Medlen and added a player like Peraza.
I am one of the biggest fans of Mike Minor that there is and I think he can develop into a pitcher who can compete for the Cy Young. I would not want to part with him or Alex Wood, but I do understand that you have to give up a lot to get a lot.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: RHP Archie Bradley (No. 6), LHP Tyler Skaggs (No. 17)
Do you want your team to acquire David Price?
Is that a trick question? Obviously, the fans of any team would be very happy if the current reigning Cy Young winner came to their team, so the answer at the very basic level has to be "Hell, yes." Of course, it isn't as easy as that, because the acquisition of Price comes at a significant cost, both in purely financial terms of his salary, and the prospects required for the deal.
Ths D-backs are currently looking at a payroll of $100 million, and don't appear to have any room to add significantly to that. With Price looking at, conservatively, earning $13 million next year, we would need to free up an equivalent sum elsewhere. While not impossible, it's difficult to conceive of a way in which it could be accomplished, without creating a significant hole elsewhere on the roster. No point improving the rotation, if the cost reduces, say, second-base to replacement level.
Equally as problematic would be the cost in prospects. We finished 11 games back of Los Angeles and nine of the second-placed wild-card Reds, so it really doesn't feel like Price alone would be the piece to push us over the edge. Sacrificing a significant chunk of the future for one player feels like a bad move. If we're going to compete with the Dodgers in the NL West, it's going mainly to be through our prospects, not big-ticket acquisitions: we can't outspend them.
Using assets from your team, what do you think would be a fair trade for David Price?
Man, is this a trick question? The problem is, "fair" is in the eye of the beholder.
If I was looking at it from the Rays side, any deal would likely be centered around our top pitching prospect Archie Bradley, with some additional prospect pieces. I can see why: it's difficult to conceive of a deal without Bradley which wouldn't seem like the D-backs were ripping off the Rays [such as Dan Szymborski's suggested offer of Owings, Davidson and Trahan].
However, from the Arizona side, Bradley should be seen as an untouchable, especially if Price is unwilling to sign a contract extension beyond 2015. Two years of Price (at a cost of $30 million or so) is just not worth six years of Bradley's potential, which everyone seems agrees could be Price-esque. It's not a move a mid-budget team with a .500 record should be making, for the reasons discussed above.
If we could work out something involving other prospects, I'd be far more interested. But I've little doubt that Price will tempt some other team (with more depth and/or better positioned to make use of Price) to offer a blue-chip prospect.
Well I have to ask,
Diamondbacks get: David Price (2 years)
Rays get: RHP Archie Bradley, LHP Tyler Skaggs, OF Adam Eaton (recently injured 4th OF), and one of SS Chris Owings, 3B Matt Davidson, or C Stryker Trahan
Do you say no?
In a heartbeat.
It's a deal which makes the Diamondbacks older, much more expensive and possibly very little better for 2014: Skaggs is still only 22, and Eaton was out or coming back from injury for much of the season, so I'm expecting both to be significantly better.
If Kevin Towers gets offered that, and doesn't hang up immediately, I'd be marching down to Chase Field to yank the phone out of the wall!
The Twins match up well in a trade for Price if only for their glut of excellent prospects, and much like the Cubs, could lead to a 2012 Royals push for the playoffs. However, neither team seems interested in sending off prospects for a two year window. If a contract extension were somehow included, there's a far higher likelihood for a deal, but that's a difficult thing to acquire.
The Braves don't have the allure of top prospects, and the young pitchers that they have available are either not seemingly available (Sims, Wood, Minor), or not enough to be a trade centerpiece (Medlen). It's worth noting that Ben noted in our discussions that the Braces GM Frank Wren is traditionally aggressive on the trade market (see: Justin Upton) and, "parted with players I didn't expect them to part with." That said, I don't see the fit.
The Diamondbacks have little to no interest in offering their Top-50 prospects, so I can't imagine the Rays will be able to draw incredible value out of their farm system.
Based on my running tally, Atlanta and Texas lack the pieces to make a swap, while Seattle and Arizona are not willing to move their trade chips. The Cubs and Twins are possible trade partners, but only if David Price signs an extension with the acquiring team, so I'll hold out hope. On to the next ones!
Baseball America prospect rankings based on their Mid-Season Top 50, including edits for the 2013 draft picks (link).