Rumor has it that the Tampa Bay Rays are willing to trade David Price. Given that Tampa Bay is struggling early in the year and is very unlikely to be able to extend Price after his contract is up it seems inevitable that Price will be traded at some point. It seems most likely that it will happen this year but next year is also a possibility because Price has another year after the 2014 season.
The Texas Rangers would be a primary suitor if Price became available. The Rangers are widely to believed to be one of the teams most interested in Price. Other teams, such as Boston, New York, the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta, Seattle and the Chicago Cubs are all potential landing spots. Most likely Boston and New York would be unlikely trade partners since they are within Tampa Bay’s division. Tampa Bay traditionally does not trade with their divisional rivals as is common among teams. It is also rumored that the Dodgers have made an attempt to get Price already this season and may have moved on from the deal. This probably does not preclude them from getting back in if the Rays begin actively shopping Price. This leaves Atlanta, Texas, Seattle and the Cubbies as the most likely spots for Price.
The reality is that landing David Price would require a team’s top prospect and then some. Price still has the rest of this year and next year under contract so his trade return will be high. Price is a former Cy Young winner and consistently one of the very best starting pitchers in baseball. It is not often that a player of his caliber becomes available. This makes it less likely that Atlanta will get Price because they would have part with Christian Betancort or Lucas Sims. The Braves seem particularly unwilling to deal Betancort. The Rangers, Mariners, and Cubs on the other hand are more willing to trade their top prospects. The Cubs are getting close to their prospects being ready and will be looking to add top flight starting pitching. They have the caliber of prospects to land Price and their prospects are disproportionately position players. The Cubs also have the financial flexibility to afford a big deal for Price. If they acquire Price they will look to lock him up long term.
The Mariners appear to be real contenders this year and definitely have the farm depth to trade for Price. Whether they can afford Price long term is questionable after the large deals for Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano. This may not matter if Seattle wants to make a run in 2014.
So what would it take for Texas to get Price? With the team falling rapidly in the standings the first thing Texas needs is to decide if they want to go through the trouble to get Price. The team is really struggling to stay in the race in 2014. The acquisition of David Price feels like a relatively short term move if a team gives up several top notch to get him. He is only 28 so if a team is willing to give him a deal in the Clayton Kershaw neighborhood he can be a long term acquisition. Once Texas decides it is in on Price, whether they decide they want to make a run this year, or whether they want to attempt to lock down Price for a long term run, the question is with whom will Texas have to part?
Let’s set aside the absurd trades where Texas gives up Mitch Moreland and J.P. Arencibia while Tampa Bay takes half of Price’s contract. Texas gave up Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Neil Rameriez and Justin Grimm to get Matt Garza. At the time Olt was a top prospect and none of the other three were half bad prospects. Price is a considerably better pitcher than Garza was at the time and the market for starting pitchers is likely to be similarly slim as it was last year. The price for Price will be high.
Any package for Price has to start with the very best prospect. For Texas this most likely means Jorge Alfaro or Roughned Odor. Luis Sardinas is also an option but he could not really headline a trade for David Price on his own. Texas will be hard pressed to deal Alfaro and more likely will want to trade from depth. This means Texas will want to start with Odor or Sardinas which may be agreeable to Tampa Bay because their long term situation up the middle is not particular stable even with the Yunel Escobar extension. Tampa Bay could use a catcher but a second baseman or shortstop should be equally acceptable as the main piece in a package.
Given that Texas has Jurickson Profar penciled in for second base long term, it may well be that Odor is the piece that they build around. Odor is a better prospect than Sardinas based on his superior offensive upside. This would also explain why Odor has been called up and is getting a chance to play at the major league level right now. After Odor Texas would need to add a pitcher. Tampa Bay is notorious for wanting pitching prospect in return. This means the other significant piece in will be someone like Alex Gonzalez or Luke Jackson. It will also take at least one other top twenty prospect which is too difficult to project at this point without knowing the depth of Tampa Bay’s system. The fourth piece in the package would be a lesser prospect but one with upside. The point here is that the package will be a expensive one but definitely one that Texas could afford if they so chose.