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.
New York Mets
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: RHP Noah Syndergaard (No. 26), C Travis d'Arnaud (No. 28)
Do you want the Mets to try and acquire David Price?
The short answer is "Yes" of course. The longer answer is more complicated.
What do you think it would take to make a trade?
It would presumably be Zack Wheeler and then some. Maybe even Noah Syndergaard or Rafael Montero. I'm not really familiar enough with the Rays' needs to know what they'd be looking for apart from "a lot."
28-year-old perennial Cy Young contenders aren't often made available so it's tough to know what a reasonable deal is. Since the Mets are longshots to compete in 2014, any massive deal for Price would almost perforce have to include a negotiating window for a long-term contract extension.
Is it fair to compare a trade for David Price to the Toronto trade for R.A. Dickey a year ago?
Keep in mind a few things before you jump off from the Dickey trade:
1. The Blue Jays got a 72-hour negotiating window for a contract extension, so it wasn't really a trade for one year of Dickey
2. Dickey was looking for a lot less money than Price will be (commensurate with long-term value, certainly, but nevertheless it's a big difference)
3. The Blue Jays expected to compete in 2013; the Mets don't *really* expect to compete in 2014
4. Syndergaard and d'Arnaud are each a year more advanced than when the Mets acquired them and, at least in Syndergaard's case, therefore clearly more valuable
So there really isn't a strong comparison between the two deals.
I mentioned it because the first temptation in a Mets trade for Price is to ask for who was received for R.A. Dickey: Syndergaard and d'Arnaud. That said, I think the Rays could net a better value by using one of the two as the centerpiece.
The core of a Mets trade offer to the Rays should be Travis d'Arnaud and Zack Wheeler, who's close to reaching the starting rotation and fills the void in the rotation.
I'm intrigued by Josh Satin and would rather round out the trade with him and prospects, a few minor league arms like Logan Verrett and Jack Leathersich, but I guess I should start with someone who could play first base, given New York's surplus in Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.
So here's two proposals:
Mets get: LHP David Price, OF Brandon Guyer
Rays get: RHP Zack Wheeler, C Travis d'Arnaud, 1B Lucas Duda, OF Matt Den Dekker
Mets get: LHP David Price
Rays get: RHP Zack Wheeler, C Travis d'Arnaud, INF Josh Satin, RHP Logan Verrett, LHP Jack Leathersich
Does either seem reasonable?
The first one is certainly more appealing, but I have a tough time thinking the Mets would trade, essentially, Wheeler and d'Arnaud for the right to sign David Price to a six-year, $150 million contract.
As a fan I wouldn't be horrified by that trade, necessarily, but I'm also averse to long-term pitcher deals and, again, I'd be surprised if the Mets did something like this.
Would you say that deal is in line with what the Rays will find on the trade market?
I guess the best answer I can give you is that I think there are teams who would make a deal equivalent to one of these, I just don't think Sandy Alderson would pull the trigger on it.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: LHP Jesse Biddle (No. 49)
Do the Phillies and a trade for David Price fit, and are you interested?
For the right price, yes. The issue with Price and the Phillies is that an extension is necessary to do it, and if the luxury tax is a limit that might be tough. Also trading for Price likely means having to fill other holes through free agency. That said, Ruben Amaro covets high end pitchers and I think the teams match up a lot better than most people would think.
The real issue for the phillies for me is whether it makes more sense (if they do a deal) to extend NOW or wait till the offseason next year to control the AAV for luxury tax purposes.
What do the Phillies have to offer to make a fair trade for David Price?
Honestly my first offer would be Dominic Brown for Price straight up.
When he says no...
Oh, he says no. It's gonna be a hefty price tag.
Well one of Dominic Brown, Maikel Franco, or Jesse Biddle have to be included, if not two. I'm not sure Friedman values Franco the same way other teams do with Longo in the fold, and Brown would make the overall package severely smaller.
To be honest, the Rays would primarily use Brown as a designated hitter. They aren't content to put guys in the outfield with suspect fielding, and the Phillies would be selling high on a guy with a home run streak that has yet to be replicated (read: one good year) so I may just avoid Brown entirely. He's a nice filler in the trade, but he's not a focal point for me.
Well then here's the interesting thing with the Phillies. If Ruben Amaro could keep brown and maikel Franco out of a deal for a guy like price the sky is literally the limit on a deal getting done I would think within reason.
Back to a few of the players you offered, the Rays can backfill the rotation with some Triple-A arms, so Biddle at Double-A is a great fit, as would be bringing in Double-A level catcher Joseph, whose closer to the bigs than the other catchers.
The Rays glaring holes would be catcher and first base, and a filler for Price in the rotation. With players like 1B Darin Ruf, the strange thing about the Phillies is that there are fits for the Rays needs. Friedman wouldn't be able to replicate the bang-for-your-buck of the Royals trade, but could make up for it with quantity and with needs being met.
Would you agree?
I'm certainly more conservative than the phillies front office, if there's one GM not named Dayton Moore who will overpay for David Price in the end if he sets his sights on him it's Ruben Amaro.
That's what I may be banking on!
How would you craft a trade offer?
Where I think the Phillies can trump a few teams is with cost controlled major league proven talent, combined with near ready minor league value.
I'd probably start with Jesse Biddle, offer any of our young catchers (Sebastian Valle, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp, Gabriel Lino), try and include one of our young utility guys (Cesar Hernandez or Freddy Galvis), then I'd sell Friedman on Phillipe Aumont with the hopes that an organization change turns him into a dominant closer...
Then I'd dangle Darin Ruf.
Ruf, in my opinion, is a poor man's Mark Trumbo. If he can sustain his 250/350/489, 32 HR pace while providing adequate defense at a low cost over the next three seasons, he is one if the best bargains in baseball.
There isn't one stud there, but there's a lot of sabermetric platoon value for very little money.
A lot of people are interested in trading Matt Joyce this offseason. Would you be interested to offer more if Joyce were packaged with Price?
The issue with Joyce is that he's really a strictly LH platoon bat with two arbitration years left coming off a down year. If I had faith that the Phillies knew how to value a platoon, I'd think differently, but I can't see Ruben Amaro pulling that trigger. Especially if Ruf is in the deal too.
Back to your proposal, you offered Biddle as a trade center piece, and I don't think that's enough value.
Baseball America values Biddle as the No. 49 prospect in baseball, and the Rays are looking for a Top-5 caliber player (like Myers). You also offered a catcher (which we have a need for in the upper minors), a bullpen prospect (which I think the Phillies need desperately), a utility guy (which the Rays have more than enough of), and Darin Ruf to meet our first base problem.
I like where all of that was headed.
Here's my Trade Proposal:
Phillies get: LHP David Price (2 years), bullpen PTBNL's
Rays get: LHP Jesse Biddle, C Tommy Joseph, 3B Maikel Franco, 1B Darin Ruf, and SS J.P. Crawford (PTBNL)
I'm all for including Biddle, I think he'll slot into the Rays development program perfectly and meet a need at Double-A next season. I'm willing to buy low on Tommy Joseph for his pedigree and current level in the minors, even though this year was completely lost for him. I'll make up for it by buying high on an infield prospect, instead of a utility guy, with Maikel Franco and his breakout season in High-A/Double-A.
Ruf meets a need now, and gives flexibility to the Rays roster, so he's still a part of the deal, but this all still lacks the oomph of the Shields and Garza trades, and I feel like it needs something drastic. Something like 2013 first round pick as a PTBNL. Crawford is 18 and a blue chip prospect, but still a long way off and no guarantee. I think that level of risk is a decent trade off. To make it worth your while, we can haggle over bullpen pieces as well.
Do you say no?
Well, the problem with looking for a top five caliber player is that you ain't getting one. From nobody. The issue with Price really comes down to the fact that he's gonna cost someone a minimum 35M for the next two years, if they don't extend, and more if they do.
The Phillies just can't afford to do that and give up their three best prospects (all of which will be top 100 preseason), plus Ruf and Joseph. It's just not feasible.
Especially if Torres and McGee are off the table.
Final thought then: begrudgingly, if I could move Jake McGee -- four years of control, lights out fastball,the projected closer for next year -- do you take the deal?
I'd probably counter with Biddle, Shane Watson (1st rounder from 2012) Joseph and Ruf for Price straight and just move on from there. You're shooting for the moon I know, but it's just way too much for this team to give up for two years of Price.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: None.
Do you want your team to acquire David Price?
I'm on the fence here. Nats' GM Mike Rizzo has stated publicly that with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and a healthy Ross Detwiler plus one of either Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark or maybe a longer shot like Nathan Karns filling in the fifth spot, he thinks there is enough pitching in the organization for 2014. He's also said that he thinks the system has recovered enough from recent deals to once again trade for what they need if something comes up this winter.
Having watched a few too many Ross Ohlendorf starts this past season, and with the health issues Detwiler has dealt with in the past, I'm not sure I'm as comfortable as Rizzo is (at least publicly) with the in-house options.
The idea of adding a David Price is obviously appealing, giving the Nats a top 4 that would be truly intimidating, but with Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond in line for big deals in the near future and Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman already locked up in long-term/big $ deals, I'm not sure adding someone like Price makes sense since you would likely only give up what it would take to get him if you thought you could lock him up to a long-term deal. You'd have a strong rotation locked up for the next for years, but a lot of $100M+ commitments on the roster.
I'd expect the Nationals or any team that thinks it's close to contention to pursue him if he is made available, just not sure if it makes sense for the Nats. On a strictly personal level, watching Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann and Price and whichever pitcher wins the fifth spot would make for a great season of baseball and a fun Triple-A rotation to follow...
Using only assets the Nationals have to offer, what do you think would be a fair trade for David Price?
Using the Gio Gonzalez trade as a template, and acknowledging that Price is the same age and more accomplished, you have to assume it's going to take at least two of the Nationals' top prospects, the top pitching prospect and position player at one of the Rays' positions of need, then 1-3 more prospects that are at or near MLB-ready...
Position Players: That would likely be 2B Anthony Rendon or OF Brian Goodwin; and losing either of them would leave holes in the organization's depth.
Pitchers: Lucas Giolito or A.J. Cole -- since I don't think the Rays would take Sammy Solis coming off Tommy John surgery, or Matt Purke with his history of shoulder issues. Then you throw in another 1-2 players from a second tier of Nationals' pitching prospects: Nathan Karns, Robbie Ray...
1. Rendon/Giolito/Karns + random prospects that interest Rays... or major league talent like Drew Storen or Ross Detwiler...
2. Goodwin/Giolito or Cole/Ray +...
I imagine that's the sort of thing you'd be talking about and I'm not sure how I feel about the first for the Nats or the second from the Rays' perspective.
I like where the first trade was headed, and using the Gio Gonzalez trade as a template, but I think we can blow this out. The Rays could use an arm to fill the Price void after he's gone, so let's bring in Tanner Roark, and as far as "random prospects" that interest the Rays, there are plenty of arms in Washington's system I think the Rays would find appealing.
Allow me to swap out Karns for Robbie Ray, and let's give this a shot:
Nationals get: LHP David Price and UTIL Sean Rodriguez
Rays get: 2B Anthony Rendon, RHP Lucas Giolito, LHP Robbie Ray, LHP Brett Mooneyham, RHP Blake Treinen, and MLB ready RHP Tanner Roark
Do you say no?
I don't doubt that this is the sort of package the Rays would be looking for in return for Price.
Rendon is the Nationals' starting second baseman right now and was widely considered the best hitting prospect in his draft class. Losing him would force the Nationals to make another move or go with the likes of Steve Lombardozzi (or a Rodriguez in this hypothetical). Giolito was projected as a potential top pick before his elbow issues and if he comes back from Tommy John he projects as a top of the rotation arm in a few seasons.
Do you trade two prospects like that for a talent like Price who can help you win now? I'm still on the fence.
The Mets -- I didn't ask for Syndergaard, sorry I'm not sorry. Don't get me wrong, he could be incredible, but Syndergaard is still remarkably young. As we've seen with our own top prospect -- despite the notoriously slow and methodical development in the Rays system -- any pitcher could blow out their elbow, so I would rather put stock in two prospects ready to crack the major league roster. We can't circle the wagons on a trade with New York, but there's still a conversation to be had. Unfortunately, I don't see this one getting done.
The Phillies are a better fit than I thought, but without the Rays being able to pry away Crawford, I can't imagine Ruben Amaro being able to outbid the likes of Texas or Los Angeles. The Phillies GM is crazy, but not that crazy, and the Rays wouldn't be able to meet the same needs in Biddle and Ruf as they would if Friedman could land Trumbo and Richards. This trade leaves a bad taste in my mouth without Crawford, so we move on.
Washington's trade got very close. What if I replace Giolito with Goodwin and add one more to each side? The Rays could use some high level catching depth after losing Stephen Vogt and Robinson Chirinos to 40-man roster crunch. To make it worth their while, we could send one or two PTBNL, and the Rays might be able to bring back a defensive stud in Triple-A catcher Sandy Leon.
It's has a lot of moving parts, but it's not impossible. Imagine with me:
Nationals get: LHP David Price, UTIL Sean Rodriguez, C/3B Chris Gimenez, PTBNL
Rays get: 2B Anthony Rendon, OF Brian Goodwin, LHP Robbie Ray, LHP Brett Mooneyham, RHP Blake Treinen, C Sandy Leon, and RHP Tanner Roark
Does Washington say no?
Baseball America prospect rankings based on their Mid-Season Top 50, including edits for the 2013 draft picks (link).
This was a longer article, thanks for sticking with me.