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: RHP Taijuan Walker (No. 7), LHP Danny Hultzen (No. 43)
The Mariners have the highest probability of pulling a 2013 Kansas City Royals this winter by going all in to build a World Series team, but do you want your the Mariners to acquire David Price?
I like David Price well enough, but he's much better suited as a trade target for a team that's ready to contend right away. The Mariners aren't there yet, and while they may throw a bunch of money at Jacoby Ellsbury, there's still around 15 wins to be made up before this team looks to seriously contend.
So I suppose the answer to that question really depends on how "Royals" the Mariners get this off-season in their attempts to contend right away. I don't think they can make up that large of a gap in the off-season, so I'd have to say no.
The Mariners have had a lot of rookies break into the Major League roster the past few years, including nine fresh faces this season, and have plenty of guys on the way. Using assets from your team, what do you think would be a fair trade for David Price?
If the Mariners did acquire Price, parting with Nick Franklin or Dustin Ackley makes a lot of sense - the Mariners have a surplus at second base, and they also have some pitching to part with. Nick Franklin, James Paxton, and Yoervis Medina would something I could stomach, though it's not an offer I'd be particularly eager to make.
I'd agree that any trade would need to have Nick Franklin coming back, and there are plenty of quality pitchers in Seattle's system. Try this Trade Proposal:
Mariners get: LHSP David Price (2 years)
Rays get: RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Danny Hultzen, 2B Nick Franklin, and one of RP's Brandon Maurer or Yoervis Medina
Do you say no?
I'd say no to that offer without much consideration at all.
While Walker may not pan out, he was very impressive in his debut starts this season, and has ace potential. He's just 21 years old, and I'm in love with his delivery. Franklin is an impressive trade chip himself, and to trade away both of those guys for just 2 years of Price, especially after his big dip in velocity, is just something that makes my stomach churn.
Danny Hultzen is going to miss the entire 2014 season and may never be the same again, but the Mariners are so pot-committed to him at this point, it'd be selling extremely low to include him. That being said, the Rays are known for making tremendous deals for their soon to be expiring contracts.
Here's how I'd frame it:
If the Rays could get Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi as the centerpieces for a deal in exchange for James Shields, that's roughly equivalent to the Mariners giving up Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who I'd say are two similarly rated prospects. I didn't like the deal the Royals made, and I wouldn't even be comfortable with making a deal for Price based on those two, even though it may be market value.
I just don't feel the Mariners are in a position to start selling off their young assets for players who aren't controlled for long, and even though Price is controlled for two years, the likelihood of him sticking around after that with Felix Hernandez's contract already on the books is slim at best.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: 3B Kris Bryant (No. 10), SS Javier Baez (No. 11), OF Albert Almora (No. 19), OF Jorge Soler (No. 21), 3B Mike Olt (No. 50)
Why should the Chicago Cubs pursue David Price this winter?
David Price is exactly the type of pitcher the Cubs want. The immediate comparison here is to Anibal Sanchez (although Price is a better pitcher than Sanchez, 2013 notwithstanding) whom the Cubs made a major push to sign last off-season. Price is young and talented and likely to still be a great pitcher in 2015 and 2016 when the Cubs will be looking to win. There's also the connection with Derek Johnson, who was Price's pitching coach at Vanderbilt and now works for the Cubs.
The Cubs payroll is low right now and while there is some debate over how much they can increase spending with the Wrigley remodel coming up, I believe there is enough money in there to sign Price to a long-term extension. Soriano's salary falls off next season, so there's that if anything.
The issue with Price and the Cubs is the timing and the length of any extension that Price would demand. One, I don't see Theo as the type to give a pitcher a seven year guaranteed contract, so if that's what Price wants the Cubs likely won't be interested. Second, he's not a free agent, of course, and while the Cubs farm system is strong (second-best by Baseball Prospectus's estimation), it's position player heavy and I'm not sure it has the prospects the Rays want. A couple of the best players are likely to end up at third base, which is a problem for the Rays. From what I hear, the Rays want pitching prospects, and the Cubs don't currently have any pitcher with #1 ace potential in our system. I assume the Rays want more than what they got for Matt Garza, and I don't think the Cubs want to top that kind of a deal right now.
The timing of this is all wrong for the Cubs. They're not ready to compete in 2014 and it's not the right time to start sending prospects away. I think if Price were a free agent they'd be major players if they didn't have to go seven years. But the Cubs are not in a position to start trading away prospects right now, nor do I think the Cubs have the right mix of prospects that the Rays want.
The Cubs may not be staring the post season in the face this year, but they have one of the best stacked farm systems in the bigs right now, large in part to some excellent international signings, a great draft pick in Kris Bryant, and the Matt Garza trade that netted Mike Olt, Justin Grimm, and C.J. Edwards. If the Cubs were going to make a deal, now is the time. What do you think would be a fair trade?
First off, any Cubs deal for Price would have to include a long-term extension with Price that the Cubs are comfortable with. If Price is willing to do that, I think any fair trade for Price includes Baez.
I think maybe Baez and RHP Pierce Johnson (our 1st round supplemental from two years ago) would be fair. I'd rather do an unfair trade though.
Well then you'll probably find my offer rather unfair, but here it goes.
Cubs get: David Price (2 Years), PTBNL
Rays get: SS Javier Baez, one of OF's Albert Almora or Jorge Soler, and 1B Dan Vogelbach
Do you say no?
There's no way the Cubs would part with both Baez and Almora for Price. That's too high a price on top of the extension.
I don't think the Rays would want Soler, not because he's not talented but because he's on a major league contract that still has about $24 million left to run. That deal would be fine for the Rays if he pans out (it's over the next seven years), but that would be a lot of money for Tampa to give to a guy that might bust. Plus, he's strictly a right fielder and you guys are good there.
Baez and Vogelbach would be intriguing.
Vogy can hit, but he's a DH and obviously the Cubs have little use for that. Vogelbach is trade bait for the Cubs and I don't think they'd have a problem including him in such a deal. Would the Rays be interested in getting a guy who can hit but could likely only DH for them? I can't answer that... but I think the Cubs would do that deal.
For more on the Cubs perspective, Josh wrote a great article on the idea of acquiring David Price that's well worth your time. At the end of the article, Josh asked his readership if the Cubs should make a deal. Of the 867 votes cast, 70% said no to any deal for Price, and 24% were only willing if the deal did not include Baez or better.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: None.
There's been a lot of speculation that the Rangers will be "aggressive" in pursuing David Price, but do you want the Rangers to try and acquire the former Cy Young winner?
Do I want the Rangers to get David Price? Sure, if the price is right. While the primary focus with the Rangers this offseason is going to be on upgrading the offense, Price is the type of legitimate #1 starter who rarely hits the market, and the idea of pairing Price with Yu Darvish at the top of the rotation, with Derek Holland and Matt Harrison as the #3 and #4 starters, is definitely exciting... that sort of rotation would allow the Rangers to match up with any team in baseball, especially in a short series.
Of course, there have to be concerns about Price's decreased velocity, the worry that he might -- might -- not be "David Price, Legit #1 Starter" after this season's issues, but still...he's someone any team would covet.
If the Rangers were to go after Price, the assumption is that it will come at a hefty cost, but this is the same team that just dealt three quality prospects to the Cubs for a rental of Matt Garza. With that in mind, and only using Texas's own depleted resources, what would make a fair trade?
The starting point is, what is Price worth? He's going to make about $35M over the next two seasons through arbitration. If he's worth 10 wins over those two seasons (which may be a stretch -- he's never cracked the 5 fWAR mark, and has had a bWAR above 5 only in 2012 (sandwiched around a pair of seasons where he failed to crack 3 bWAR), then at $5M per win, you've got $15M in surplus value.
Now, WAR isn't exactly linear, and there's more value in going from 3 wins to 5 wins than from 1 win to 3 wins, and there's also value in Price being a guy you'd feel good about pitching twice in a five game series, but still...he's expensive, which limits your surplus value.
I'd probably offer Jurickson Profar for Price, but that would be a steep price to pay, as I think there's a good chance Profar gives more surplus value than Price during 2014-15 (the years Price is under team control) alone...but still, I have to think that is, at minimum, the cost.
Using the barometer of last winter's James Shields trade, I would say that it will probably take more than Profar to net David Price. Dan Szymborski listed some names he thought could net Price, what if we threw these together?
Rangers get: David Price (2 years), PTBNL
Rays get: INF Jurickson Profar, one of 2B Rougned Odor or 3B Joey Gallo, and RHP Connor Sadzeck
Do you say no?
I absolutely say no to that package. Dan Szymborski suggested Odor, Gallo and Sadzeck was a fair package for Price... and while I think he's underrating what it will take to get Price, I don't think that package is so light it justifies including Profar, as well.
I'd do Profar and Sadzeck. I'd value Odor over Gallo at this point, though I don't know that I'd give up either of them along with Profar.
Seattle has the pieces to make a trade work, but the fit does not have an immediate impact. With as much great, young pitching that the Mariners have coming up, and granted the cost of Felix's salary, I can't see a trade with Seattle working out either (unless, you know, Mike Zunino enters the conversation).
The Cubs are a great fit for Price, but hinging hopes for a trade on an extension may not be reasonable. I would disagree with Josh that the Rays may not be interested in Jorge Soler due to the money left on his 9 year, $30M contract, which has a low impact year-to-year, but the Rays truly are fine in right field with Myers. Anything less than Baez, Almora, and Vogelbach would be unreasonable, based on what I expect the market value of Price to be, that may be where we draw the line.
The Rangers reaction is exactly what I was expecting. I think they'd be resigned to giving up Jurickson Profar, but hesitant to mortgage the farm so soon after dealing some of their best prospects to the Cubs for Matt Garza.
Thanks again to our guests. Based on their perspectives, it would seem that none of these three teams is eager to make a trade for David Price.
Baseball America prospect rankings based on their Mid-Season Top 50, including edits for the 2013 draft picks (link).