With the Rays under-performing this season with a record of 20-28, prospective suitors will be lining up with roses in hand looking to settle down with the most eligible bachelor in baseball, David Price. The Rays would obtain greater value if they opt to move Price around the trade deadline as opposed to this off-season. With Price signed through 2015, a contending team would be much more willing to part with top prospects provided Price were around for two possible playoff runs instead of one. Not all competing teams have the means to acquire Price. A team like the Yankees that lack a surplus of low-level talent might have to get creative and entertain some sort of three-way deal where an established player like Brett Gardner could be dealt to a team with better prospects. Below I have listed the three most likely teams in my opinion, to acquire Price. I’ve also noted two “wild-card” teams that haven’t been rumored suitors, but would make a lot of sense for implementing a “win now at all costs” strategy.
The Texas Rangers injury riddled starting pitching staff is in dire need of a top of the rotation arm to accompany Yu Darvish. With the recent promotion of second baseman Rougned Odor, the eventual return of Jurickson Profar may create an excess of middle infielders similar to last season. The departure of Ian Kinsler was supposed to remedy the situation; however, instead the Rangers may have to return to shuffling Profar through multiple positions if Odor can stick at second. The Rays could use a long-term second base option with Ben Zobrist set to become a free agent after this season. The Rangers top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro would be a great fit in Tampa as Jose Molina and Ryan Hanigan are elite pitch framers, but lack the offensive pop of Alfaro. Texas infield prospect Joey Gallo is tearing it up in high A this season with an astonishing 18 HR in 150 at bats. Power like that could be an excellent future addition to the middle of the Rays Lineup.
Proposed Trade: Rangers Get: David Price/Rays Get: Rougned Odor-2B, Jorge Alfaro-C, Joey Gallo-CI, and Akeem Bostick-RHP
The Cubs don’t have the incentive to acquire Price this season, as they are clearly playing for the future; however, they may have to in order to undercut the competition from teams looking to win now. Chicago has the prospects to deal for Price and the payroll flexibility to lock him up long-term. Though I previously made the argument the Cubs should keep Samardijza, it’s looking more and more like he will be dealt by the trade deadline. Samardijza should yield a nice package of prospects that a savvy front office like the Cubs could cherry pick to tailor to the needs or likes of the Tampa Bay front office. Players like Starlin Castro and Mike Olt are currently blocking top prospects Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, and it would make sense to move them. Mike Olt could provide the Rays with a power hitting DH that their lineup has been desperately lacking for several years now. Cubs 1B prospect Dan Vogelbach is expendable, with Anthony Rizzo looking like the long term option at first. Vogelbach could be a nice power option to replace James Loney when his three year contract expires in 2017.
Proposed Trade: Cubs get David Price, Hak-Ju Lee-MI/Rays get Mike Olt CI, C.J Edwards-RHP, Starlin Castro SS, and Dan Vogelbach 1B
Los Angeles Dodgers
Perhaps the most likely of all the Price suitors is the Los Angeles Dodgers. The “win now at all costs” mentality Dodger ownership has shown would make a trade for David Price a strong possibility. Not only does LA have the payroll to sign Price; they also have the prospects to trade for him. Outfielder Joc Pederson would likely be the centerpiece of a Rays/Dodgers deal. Not only does Pederson offer a first-rate power/defense combo, he has excellent plate discipline as well. Pederson could join Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers in what could be become one of the best outfields in baseball. The Dodger’s outfield is already over crowded with the likes of Carl Crawford, Andre Eithier, Andy Van Slyke, Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp all competing for time, so it will be hard to find a role for Pederson. Adding Price would easily give LA the best starting rotation in baseball. Could you imagine having to face Kershaw/Greinke/Price in a playoff series? With the recently hearing-impaired Alexander Guererro just about major league ready, top SS prospect Cory Seager could also be a valuable trade chip.
Proposed Trade: Dodgers get David Price/ Rays get Joc Pederson-OF, Cory Seager-SS, and Julio Urias-LHP
The Colorado Rockies have deified naysayers this season by starting the year with an impressive 26-21 record. With Colorado’s core of Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez, Nolan Arenado, and Wilin Rosario all under team control through 2017, some elite pitching help could be a real difference maker. The Rockies off-season strategy of stacking the rotation with groundball pitchers has proven successful thus far, as Rockies pitchers have posted a respectable 4.11 team ERA while opposing hitters have been held to an impressive .258 at Coors Field and .247 on the road. Price’s career 45.6% ground ball rate could be an excellent fit for a park that is not kind to fly-ball pitchers. Since their inaugural 1993 season, the Rockies have consistently put up elite offensive numbers; whereas the organization has never had a true #1 ace starting pitcher of Price’s caliber. The favorable hitter’s park effect of Coors Field has made it incredibly hard for the Rockies to sign an ace through free agency, which is why a year and a half of David Price may be their only hope… It wouldn’t be easy for Rockies fans to part with top pitching prospects Eddie Butler and Jonathan Grey (which is what it would likely take to land Price), but a post season run could make it very easy to forget about prospects. Let’s not forget the Rockies were terrible last year and will have the #8, #35, and #48 picks in this summer’s amateur draft, so the farm will certainly not be depleted by a major trade. Price would be a key addition to the Rockies making a run at their first World Series title in franchise history.
Proposed Trade: Rockies get David Price/ Rays get Eddie Butler RHP, Jonathan Gray RHP, and Rosell Herrera SS
While currently only 1.5 games out of the lead for the AL East, The Baltimore Orioles are in a solid position to contend for their second postseason berth in the last three years. With the off-season signings of Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, and rumors circulating the O’s will attempt to sign Kendrys Morales, they are looking to cash in on the present window of opportunity to win. With AL East favorites Boston and Tampa Bay struggling mightily, the O’s greatest weakness is once again starting pitching. Though the Rays are unlikely to trade Price within the division, the Orioles may be able to offer the best group of pitching prospects of any prospective David Price suitor. Dylan Bundy (recovering from TJ surgery but should return later this season), Kevin Gausman, and Hunter Harvey could be huge future rotation pieces should the Rays look to recoup the starting pitching depth that would be lost on Price as well as Matt Moore’s shoulder injury. Baltimore hasn’t had a legitimate ace since Mike Mussina. The potent slugging Baltimore offense and elite infield defense would be a great fit for a pitcher who has grown accustomed to minimal run support. What player wouldn’t want to go from the ugliest most scarcely attended park in baseball to the beautiful and historic Camden Yards?
Proposed Trade: Orioles get David Price/ Rays Get Dylan Bundy-RHP, Hunter Harvey-RHP, Jonathan Schoop-INF