Scott: Over the off-season, it was rumored that the Indians checked in on what it might take to trade for David Price. The Rays, well, asked for the moon: catcher/other-position-player Carlos Santana, hyped righty starter Danny Salazar, and top five shortstop prospect Francisco Lindor.
Santana is 28 years old, and he's guaranteed $15.45 million through 2016, with a $12 million team option for 2017. From 2010-2013, his .356 wOBA ranked 34th among big league hitters with more than 2000 plate appearances. He offers nothing defensively no matter where he is, but he's a switch hitter that excels batting right-handed with pop.
Salazar, 24, was a rookie sensation last year in 52 innings. He struck out over 30% of opponents and posted a 3.16 FIP to help the Indians get to the playoffs. 2014 has not been quite as good. He was bumped down to Triple-A after making eight starts with a 4.71 FIP, and he hasn't been much better with Columbus, walking a career high 10.5% of opponents. He still has a mid-90's fastball and complements it with a good changeup and breaking ball though.
Lindor, 20, could probably play in the big leagues today. He's a potential gold glove defender that can also make an impact at the plate. He's a switch hitter that makes consistent contact to all fields, and he has a patient approach at the plate. He's stolen 20+ bases in all three full years of his pro career, but he's more of a good baserunner than game-changing athlete.
It's easy to see why the Rays would ask for this package. Santana is in his physical prime with a reasonable contract, Salazar is a young pitcher that was coming off an impressive debut, and Lindor is an easy top 20 prospect in the league. It's also easy to see why Cleveland would turn this down. For two seasons of Price (and now less than one and a half), that's steep for a small market team.
Wahoo's on First insists that Cleveland should walk away if Lindor has to be involved, but rumors persist today, according to MLB Daily Dish. Friend of the site Steve Kinsella says not so fast:
Dear #Indians Fans: The Tribe scouting #Rays minor leagues is in event of facilitating a 3-way deal - not landing David Price -— Steve Kinsella (@Steve_Kinsella1) July 16, 2014
I don't know if that's going to stop speculation though.
Danny: The proposed trade at the start of the off-season was so tantalizing a few months ago, but a dose of reality from Salazar this season, combined with Santana's horrible first two months, would have caused such rampant depression in Rays-land that I'm thankful it never happened.
Without the Indians taking on cash I have trouble calling $12M for a would-be DH in 2017 a reasonable contract. Furthermore, in Cleveland, the third-base experiment for Santana failed, but playing to Santana's purported necessity of playing the field and Nick Swisher's not-giving-a-crap, Swisher has moved to DH as Santana has taken over first base, still filling in at backup catcher. The Rays do not have this magical scenario where Santana can get his fill of the field, nor will they have patience for his defensive mishaps along the way.
You can read more about the Carlos Santana experience on Fangraphs, with GIFs of his adjustments around the field. His name remains in the mix due to the previous rumors, but I just don't see the fit.
Danny Salazar is not the most obvious fit either. Yes he has the change up, but as your recent depth chart showcased, what the Rays really might want is more left-handed pitching. The Rays wouldn't turn down a talented piece of a trade for that reason alone, but it's worth laying out there.
ESPN's Jim Bowden, who seems to be the only guy writing about Rays -- albeit on the softest of rumors -- reiterated the front office is after something bigger than the Cubs brought in for their pitching trade. That prize was the No. 6 prospect in the game, according to Baseball Prospectus. Francisco Lindor is No. 4.
The Indians are a match, but how can we construct this trade another way? A first round draft pick like Clint Frazier or Tyler Naquin could go a long way, but where do you see fits?
Scott: Without Lindor, I don't think this can get done. While they've gotten Trevor Bauer straightened out this year, there's still, probably, a lot of risk with him. If Lindor is off the table, they're lacking in impact talent close to the majors.
Naquin could be solid with a good hit tool, great arm and potential to play center field, but there's a chance he's a tweener with fringy defense in center and not enough power for a corner. I don't think he's good enough to headline a deal for Price. He just went out with hand surgery recently too.
Frazier was one of my favorite players in last year's draft and could have an impact bat. In Low-A though, I think he's too big of a risk to take him back as the number one piece in a trade. Until a recent (really) hot streak, his season has been pretty ordinary. His bat speed is still ridiculous though, and he just needs to cut down on his strikeouts.
Cleveland doesn't have the depth to make this kind of trade if their best prospect isn't available, unless the Rays are going for a quantity over quality trade. I don't think they should, and I don't think they will.
Danny: But the temptation has to be strong! The Indians are seven games out in a volatile division, and currently getting lapped in hype by the other franchises in town. The Browns drafted Johnny Football, and the city is hailing the return of The King to the Cavaliers. This could be a big year for Cleveland, why not go all in?
Back to reason: In my mind, Cleveland and St. Louis (who we discussed last week) are the strongest trade candidates in if the Rays want a top-prospect to headline the deal. Not much unlike the trade offers we discussed then, you have to wonder if adding another major league player would help sweeten the deal for the Indians. Perhaps someone like Matt Joyce, to pick up the slack of David Murphy and Nick Swisher in the lineup.
However, like you said above, without Lindor this deal is not happening. The Rays still have that 2% glimmer of hope that they could reach the off-season in a fading AL East. If you want Price, you have to pay the right... price. Ugh.
You can read more on the Indians and a possible David Price trade in our off-season discussion with Let's Go Tribe here.