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 Jameson Taillon (No. 14), OF Gregory Polanco (No. 16), SS Alen Hanson (No. 44)
A.J. Burnett did much for the Pirates in 2013, leading the rotation to your team's first winning season (and post season) in a couple decades, but there's a significant risk that he could retire instead of re-signing. Considering that option is even on the table, the Pirates may need to find another ace for 2014-15.
Should the Pirates be pursuing David Price?
If they actually have interest, I haven't heard of it.
It would be a big splash, but they have much bigger needs at first base and right field. The rotation is in reasonable shape, particularly if A.J. Burnett comes back.
You don't sound all that worried about the rotation. Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, and Charlie Morton are under cotnract, and there's an option for Wandy Rodriguez. Unless Cole is ready to anchor the rotation, the Pirates could use help. Do you want your team to acquire David Price?
Would I like the Pirates to acquire David Price? Sure. Would I like the Pirates to acquire David Price for what the Rays are likely to feel is a fair price? No.
I don't see a good reason for the Pirates to pay fair market value. They already have a strong rotation. That might change for them somewhat if A.J. Burnett doesn't return, but my guess is that he will.
The Pirates have far bigger holes at first base and right field, and my guess is that, if they're going to go bonkers on a big trade (which they certainly have the ability to do, with a good farm system and money to spare), it will be at one of those positions, or elsewhere in the offense.
If a trade were built around Jameson Taillon and Gregory Polanco, do you say no?
I say no.
This isn't primarily a comment on Price or his market value. He's obviously a tremendous pitcher (although I'd argue that it would be hard for Price to give the Pirates enough surplus value in two years to be worth that package, since he already isn't cheap), but the Pirates, like the Rays, depend heavily on their farm system, and those are their top two prospects.
The Pirates shouldn't be afraid to deal from the strength of their farm system at this point, but they should be able to get better bang for their buck elsewhere.
To be honest, I have to agree. I can't see the Pirates parting with their two best prospects unless they're getting a long term guarantee (Giancarlo Stanton comes to mind). I respect that.
What if we built the trade around one of those big two, though?
Pirates get: LHP David Price (2 years), PTBNL
Rays get: RHP Jameson Taillon, OF Josh Bell, RHP Tyler Glasnow, RHP Luis Heredia, LHP Andy Oliver
Still say no?
No, that's way too much.
I get what you're asking -- you've got this really awesome shiny thing to sell, and you think someone will give up a lot for it. You're probably right. I just don't think that team is the Pirates.
The Bucs need to lean every bit as hard on their farm system as the Rays do, and it doesn't make sense for them to give up most of the best stuff in a very good farm system (minus Gregory Polanco, Alen Hanson and the 2013 draftees) to get a guy who is 1) eligible for free agency in two years and 2) not all that cheap and 3) a pitcher.
Can you foresee a situation in which the Pirates throw their hat into the ring?
If I were Neal Huntington, I would probably think that the Pirates have enough very good prospects that they might be able to pull off a big-time deal for a hitter without trading either Jameson Taillon or Gregory Polanco. I would probably try that first.
I might be willing to give up one of Taillon or Polanco, but it would have to be for a player with several years of control remaining, and even then I would be reluctant to give up three more very good prospects in addition.
Baseball America Top-50 prospects: None.
Recognizing there will probably be a high cost, how would you feel about the Angels trying to acquire David Price?
I would love for the Angels to acquire David Price.
Even if that means mortgaging the farm?
If I'm the front office, I probably start by asking for RHP Garrett Richards,1B CJ Cron, 3B Kaleb Cowart, 2B Taylor Lindsey, and OF Kole Calhoun.
Your offer is hilariously low, I would take it in a minute.
Do you have faith in other prospects, or is Price just that good?
I don't have any faith in Cron or Cowart being impact players. I hope they prove me wrong if the Angels stay with them.
Cowart was a bust at AA and Cron is a future strikeout king. I have no faith in the Angels minor league system as presently constituted to tutor or tame them.
Richards is a #5 starter, Calhoun might amount to something and he is the kind of player one roots for and sentimentally wants to keep. But David Price will deliver more WAR over the next two seasons than Calhoun might accrue in the next four or five and the Angels have surplus outfielders.
Lindsey could be a regular in the show but he is two years off and with an aging Pujols and Hamilton, this trade would be emblematic of "win-now" mode.
I have long term hopes for RJ Alvarez, Hunter Green, Zach Borenstein and Lindsey. And it is mostly just hope.
What do you think would constitute a fair trade for David Price?
I would offer you the first three players you mentioned, you seem higher on them than I do so by all means enjoy! And then you can pick any one of the folowing major leaguers:
CF Peter Bourjos, SS Erick Aybar, 2B Howie Kendrick, 1B Mark Trumbo
Well, Peter Bourjos just had wrist surgery, so I'm wary, Erick Aybar has three more years at $8.5M per, and Howie Kendrick has two years at $9.5M per.
Moreover, the Rays have players entrenched at center, second and short, so you know the answer is Trumbo. He's arbitration eligible the next three seasons and should be relatively inexpensive. Trumbo also fills the gap at first base, where his defensive metrics actually outpaced James Loney last season. That's hard to say no!
Great - take the Trumbo and run.
And if Price is Price for two seasons, well you can kiss my ring and say you fleeced me.
The Pirates and the Rays are far from being the same team, internally they're far apart, but they share a common struggle: salary. I wanted to make sure we included the Pirates after having such great discussions about their prospects earlier this week in Part 2's comment section, but I've never seen them as a contender for Price, and this discussion confirms that suspicion.
The conversation surrounding the Angels is whether you feel three years of Mark Trumbo and pieces -- which Mat suggests would be RHP Garrett Richards, 3B Kaleb Cowart, and 1B CJ Cron -- is enough to net David Price. Even though both of the prospects immediately join Tampa Bay's Top-10, neither's ceiling is impressively high and I would fully expect Friedman to require a few more pieces to round out the farm. That might need the Rays to offer a little something more to the Angels, but this trade has a ton of potential.
The prize is Mark Trumbo, who has absolutely slugged home runs the last three seasons.
There's a lot to be excited about in Trumbo's approach. He's persistently improved his walk rate (up to 8% last season), and in a down year offensively (.322 wOBA, 106 wRC+ -- compared to .346, 123 in 2012) still posted a 2.5 WAR. He has the defensive flexibility to play the outfield when necessary (7 DRS in left field in 2012), which plays to Joe Maddon's preferences, and best of all, his power has been extremely consistent (ISO: .223/.222/.219, HR/FB: 17.9%/20.6%/20.9%). If he can drop his strikeout rate (near-worst 27.1%) to rookie levels (20.9%), he's be one of the best hitters in the game.
If the Rays trade David Price, I'm highly in favor of acquiring a major league ready starter, and the Rays would get that in Garrett Richards.
Even though the Rays shelled him in their meeting earlier this season, he posted a 3.66 FIP over 145 innings, switching between the bullpen and rotation. Rotation injuries gave him four starts by the All-Star break, and he picked up 13 more in the second half -- and it's worth noting his stats didn't deviate between those roles.
In his second season of major league action, Richards sported a 16% k-rate, about 7% walks, and actually allowed a slightly better wOBA as a starter (.306) than he did as a reliever (.311). He's a groundball pitcher, posting a 57.9% in his first full season on work, and his skill set plays well to the Rays infield.
A former supplemental first round pick, he'll be under control 'til 2019, and to echo Jack Moore, has the stuff to make scouts drool.
Richards has a very strong fastball that has all the promise of upping his strikeout rate (fourseam and sinker, both at 95 MPH), relies on a plus-plus slider, and has toyed with a change up in the past that the Rays could still develop. His whiff-worthy slider has a bit more bite, and the groundball tendencies are not the same, but immediate comparisons to Chris Archer's repertoire are not invalid.
This trade doesn't have the same far-reaching impact of adding Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to the farm system, but that doesn't mean I'm not tempted.
For those keeping score at home, the Angels are officially the most likely suitor of the trades visited thus far, while Chicago and Minnesota both have potential is Price is interested in signing an extension.
Baseball America prospect rankings based on their Mid-Season Top 50, including edits for the 2013 draft picks (link).