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.
In Part 7, we cover the teams I did not think would have a strong interest in Price (not including the AL East). Some of these conversations were brief, others dabbled into trade ideas, but the overarching theme was a resounding 'no thanks.'
Chicago White Sox
Do you want the White Sox to pursue David Price?
The White Sox rotation is fine, and so is their ability to develop their own starters. If they're going to use their precious few trade-able assets to acquire talent, it's going to be a position player, because their lineup needs way more help.
When Jake Peavy was out of the picture, the Sox rotation had four lefty starters. Price transcends handedness concerns, but it underscores the idea that he doesn't really address a need for the Sox.
Do you think it would be too aggressive for the Sox at this stage?
Rick Hahn isn't writing off 2014, but he's not going to sink a ton of resources into pieces that don't help him win in 2015 or beyond.
Do you want the Rockies to acquire David Price? Do you think pursuing Price at this time would be aggressive for Colorado?
Yes, the Rockies would like to get him.
It would not be too aggressive for the current Rockies management. If they improve their bench, the Rockies would absolutely be competitive enough to justify a trade.
What do you think would make a fair trade?
A fair trade would be perhaps Dexter Fowler and Eddie Butler, plus maybe a player like Chad Bettis.
The Rays don't really have a need for Dexter Fowler, though they may be interested in an OF'er with a time table of mid-2015. If Jonathan Gray could be included as a PTBNL, I think there's a better chance of working out a deal.
Unless the Rockies can return similar value from the major league roster, the kind of value the Rays are looking for starts with Gray. Eddie Butler is on the right track in rounding out the cornerstone of the trade, but I think Colorado would need to outbid other teams with breadth of prospects, as opposed to high upside.
Butler + Gray won't happen. At the price you describe, Colorado almost certainly wouldn't be interested.
Do you want the Tigers to acquire David Price?
Anyone who watches baseball should want David Price on their team. Even if he did only win Cy Young because Jon Paul Morosi wouldn't vote for Verlander. (That's a joke. Please tell your readers that's a joke. THAT'S A JOKE PEOPLE! There.)
(Kurt's totally serious, you guys.)
Do you think Detroit could make a fair trade for David Price?
I don't think there's really a fair trade possible that would make both organizations happy. If the Rays are getting rid of Price to save money, the Tigers really don't have the kind of player they'd be hoping to receive in return. And lord knows the Tigers have no prospects. I really don't see it as a realistic possibility.
Kansas City Royals
Don't hate me, I have to ask: Do you want Dayton Moore to acquire David Price?
I'm still upset the Royals swept a meaningless September series in Detroit in 2006 to basically gift wrap him to Tampa. Yes, he would make a fine addition to KC. Can't develop our own starters? Get some from Tampa.
Is there a fair trade to be made between Kansas City and Tampa Bay this year?
No clue on fair trade. Shields netted Myers ( the rest of that deal was dead weight) and Price is a better SP. Tampa should demand Kyle Zimmer and grab another top 10 prospect.
Would you like Miami to make a move for David Price?
I would not like the Miami Marlins to pursue a deal for David Price. If there is one place where the Marlins have depth, it is in starting pitching, and the Fish have to secure in terms of pitching now that Jose Fernandez has already proven himself in his first year. The team has a number of capable second- or third-starters and a bevy of prospects up the pipeline, so this is an area on which they need not focus.
In addition, Miami is is no position to attempt a trade for Price because it would be a short-term move, with him having only two seasons left of team control. If the Marlins were to acquire him, they would have an extremely difficult time re-signing him and would have to pay a fortune. If Miami is to acquire a short-term option, it would not be in a major, multi-prospect trade, since they would not garner enough benefit from the 2014 season to justify the cost.
If the Marlins were to throw their hat into the ring, what do you think would be a fair deal?
It is difficult for me to even consider a fair offer for Price, who is an ace-caliber starter earning close to $14 million next season in arbitration. With the question about injury as well, it makes for a tough task to determine just what would be his value.
Any trade would have to begin with a cost-controlled piece, and the Marlins' best one is one of their three current young starters. Nathan Eovald would serve as a nice anchor alongside a top pitching prospect, either Andrew Heaney or Justin Nicolino.
Unfortunately, there would have to at least be some more pieces going the Rays' way, and Miami simply doesn't have the non-pitching depth to offer the Rays. Tampa would almost certainly be looking for a more balanced and less pitching-centric return, but those two players would be a start.
Do you think the Brewers should pursue David Price?
I think Brewers fans, perhaps more than anybody, are well aware of the impact a talent like Price can have on a team. The Brewers went from potential rebuilders to World Series contenders in 2011 by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum in one of the greatest talent infusions in franchise history. Brewer fans are also aware of and living in the aftermath, though: An organization where the players they acquired are long gone and where the absence of young talent is being clearly felt.
What do you think would be a fair offer for Price, using what Milwaukee has to offer?
The Brewers don't really have the expendable budding young superstar the Rays would likely want to get for Price, so any deal between these two teams would have to be based on volume of return. You could probably start with Wily Peralta, who doesn't turn 25 until May and showed flashes of brilliance in his first full MLB season in 2013. Peralta's overall numbers weren't that impressive but he had a 3.15 ERA over 91.1 innings after July 1.
Then I guess you could pick one of two young pitchers to graduate the Brewer minor leagues in 2013: Tyler Thornburg or Jimmy Nelson. Thornburg has the higher upside of the two, with excellent stuff that propelled him to an excellent audition as an MLB starter this season. He's also drawn some comparisons to Tim Lincecum, but that's largely because both of them aren't very tall. Nelson is steadier, has a little less service time and projects to be more durable, but also represented the Brewers in the 2013 Futures Game.
Then you can take your pick of young position players who have defied expectations: Scooter Gennett or Khris Davis. Gennett has been a productive hitter all through the minors but has been written off by scouts because he's very small (the 5'10", 180 lbs on his B-Ref page is very generous on both numbers). Davis has shown prodigous power throughout the minors but scouts don't think highly of his swing. Both players are limited to one defensive position: Gennett only plays second base and Davis is only a left fielder.
I think I'd be comfortable making that deal, which is how I know it's almost certainly not enough to get Price.
The Rays are looking for a few things in trades this winter, by my estimation: top value in a prospect under long term control, an mlb-ready starter to fill the void left by Price if he's traded, hopefully present answers at first base and catcher, and prospects to round out the system.
Milwaukee doesn't really have that Top-50 prospect draw right now. That's not to say they don't have value to share, but I think it will take quantity to beat the quality of fewer players that could be found elsewhere on the market.
I do think a trade starts with Wily Peralta and perhaps Jimmy Nelson, but I'm not sure where to go from there. The Rays could ask for organizational fillers, but that doesn't satisfy the same need.
Here's my offer:
Brewers get: LHP David Price (2 years), PTBNL
Rays get: C Jonathan Lucroy (4 years), RHP Wily Peralta, RHP Johnny Hellweg, LF Khris Davis, RHP Jimmy Nelson, 1B Hunter Morris, and one of RHRP's Rob Wooten or Brandon Kintzler
Do you say no?
Yeah, no chance. The Brewers were a dumpster fire at catcher for most of the last two decades, now they've got a young, cost-controlled catcher that might be the best in franchise history. Trading Lucroy would be a disaster even if you had two David Prices.
Do you want the A's to acquire David Price, and what do you think would make a fair trade?
I think your first question is worth dividing into two parts. First, do I *want* the A's to acquire Price if everything is in a vacuum? Of course. Who wouldn't want an ace quality starter headlining their team's rotation? He is everything that a team would want in their top starter: good velocity, good injury history, and 200+ innings a year, PLUS he is left-handed.
Now, would I want the A's to pay the price (pun intended) necessary to acquire him from the Rays? No, absolutely not. He has two more years left of team control, and that would command a relatively hefty package. If I had to guess at its contents, it would be something like Addison Russell, Michael Choice, and Jarrod Parker. In that package, that represents a probable starting SS for someone in 2015 (and maybe even August-September 2014), a starting corner outfielder in 2015 at the latest, and a 200-inning starter still in his pre-arbitration years.
What's more, I'm just not sure it makes sense for any small market team to make a trade like that if they already know they cannot sign him to an extension. The fact of the matter is that the A's would probably not able to offer Price an extension at a price he would sign within the next two years. Part of the calculation for a larger market team in dumping its big-time prospects + younger talent for a more established player like Price before he hits free agency is the exclusive ability to sign said player to an extension. Without that ability, and taking into account the relative strength of the A's rotation going forward with the emergence of Sonny Gray, it makes no sense for the A's to go after Price.
San Diego Padres
Do you think the Padres should pursue David Price?
I don't think the Padres would be interested in David Price for much the same reasons that the Rays want to trade him. His current salary intakes a large chunk of the payroll, something the team will be increasing but not sure they'd like it to all go to one player. There's also no way to keep him in lot his free agency years. A rental like that with that price tag (both in salary and prospects) isn't something the Padres should be interested in.
If the Padres were to make a deal, what do you think would be a fair trade?
If there were to be some sort of trade (if he Padres want to be flashy and not care about economics and winning over the long term) then I imagine the best fit would be a package that includes a catcher. Austin Hedges is the obvious name. His value alone wouldn't be enough to carry the whole deal, so there would have to be some pitchers involved. The extent of how many and of what value really depends on how well the Padres can negotiate and how willing the Rays are to trade. Since I'm already assuming the Padres won't want make this trade, it's hard for me to guess the price in prospects they'd pay in order to complete it in this fantasy.
San Francisco Giants
Do you want the Giants to acquire David Price?
Yes, but not enough to beat the offers from other teams.
Using the assets San Francisco has to offer, what do you think would be a fair trade for David Price?
1. LHP Kyle Crick, LHP Edwin Escobar, RF Mac Williamson, and C Hector Sanchez (5 years)
2. 1B Brandon Belt (4 years), LHP Edwin Escobar, and RF Mac Williamson
Could be a bit light/fanboyish, but it's hard for me to tell. Feels like a ton to me, though.
I wouldn't want the Giants to do it because I think they have a weird mix of win-now and under-30 regulars, and Belt's a big part of that, as are the five pitching prospects moving from San Jose to Richmond next year.
Can you just, like, let us borrow Price for a year?
Each of these teams had no interest in making a trade for David Price, not at the cost it would take; however, Grant's parting question got me thinking.
Professional Soccer has loan programs to give should-be starters more playing time, which normally involves financial compensation in salary relief. It would be fascinating to see baseball do such a thing, but in trading prospects for a year's worth of a contract.
To be realistic, this normally happens when a team wants to give a prospect more competitive playing time, but there are a few instances of teams shipping off a star player in order to develop a better team. Liverpool loaning Andy Carroll to West Ham United last season comes to mind. Carroll is a starting forward for Team England, but Liverpool had a new coach and new system that emphasized developing young talent at the highest level. It was a shift intentionally made by Fenway Sports Group, the owners of Liverpool (and a certain other baseball team I'd rather not mention right now). It had its roots in bring baseball development strategies to England, and was shocking. Andy Carroll was acquired to replace Fernando Torres as the new star of Liverpool, and they shipped him out after two seasons to make room (in dollars and talent) on the roster.
Loans often end in a better relationship between the player and the acquiring club when it involves a veteran athlete, and it has the advantage of costing less in the present while establishing a good relationship for the future, while the team loaning the player gets the benefit of giving that player a starting opportunity elsewhere while maintaining control of their contract.
What if the Mets could have been loaning Lucas Duda to Toronto instead of starting him in the outfield for the cost of a decent prospect? With as many problems as there are with the international posting system, what if the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles could simply loan Masahiro Tanaka instead of selling his contract? What if the Rays could loan David Price for 2014 and bring him back for his final year in 2015, or flip him elsewhere, essentially trading Price twice for lots of prospects (or cash)?
I have to wonder if such a system could work in baseball today, and what implication it might have in a situation like this.
Thanks to all our guests who were willing to give me a response when a simple, "It doesn't really make sense on any level," would have done just fine.
Click their names as listed above for a link to their twitter accounts and websites, and come back next week for the series conclusion as I recap the responses, and to vote for your favorite.