With a little over five weeks remaining until the trade deadline, rumors of names heading to contending teams are starting to heat up. Among the names is David Price, the three-time All-Star and 2012 AL Cy Young winner, who is under team-control through the 2015 season and will likely fetch a very strong return, likely similar to what the Tampa Bay Rays received for James Shields, if the last place Rays decide to be sellers at the trade deadline. After Wednesday afternoon’s performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his stock seems to be at its peak for a potential deal.
In front of 23,761 of the finest retirees in St. Petersburg, Florida, Price pitched 8.1 innings, allowing just five hits, one run, coming on a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen in the top of the 9th, while striking out 11, and walking one. Price became the first pitcher since Johan Santana in 2004 to strike out at least 10 batters in five straight starts. Price now has a Greg Maddux-like 144:14 K:BB in 124 innings in 2014. While his ERA stands at 3.63 after the strong performance, Price’s FIP is 2.99, and the Rays, who have scored 300 runs in their 80 games (3.75 R/G), aren’t scoring nearly enough runs to allow Price to win as many games as he should have at this point. In his five masterful strikeout performances in June, Price is now just 2-3 with a 2.27 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, and a 54:5 K:BB over 39.2 innings.
The line forming for Price’s services is extending each day. The most recent name to drop in is laughably the Los Angeles Angels, whose farm system is the weakest in baseball and would require a three-way deal including Mike Trout to get the pieces necessary to deal prospects for Price. There are plenty of players, though.
Steve Kinsella (@Steve_Kinsella1), of Sports Talk Florida, mentioned in a piece published Wednesday that the Dodgers and Cardinals are two teams that meet the criteria of an impressively stocked farm system. He mentioned hard-throwing right-hander Carlos Martinez and outfielder Oscar Taveras being interesting pieces for the Rays from St. Louis, while the Dodgers could toss out the names of 17-year-old left-hander Julio Urias, right-hander Zach Lee, outfielder Joc Pederson, and shortstop Corey Seager, as possible names in a deal. It’s hard to argue with either of those deals on the Tampa Bay side, as they would need to acquire enough talent to have a deal worth completing, but it’s fair to question whether they have any leverage when so many other teams know that they don’t want to risk going to arbitration prior to the 2015 season and paying Price nearly $20 million given the club’s weak attendance and non-existent revenue capabilities in their market.
While the Cardinals and Dodgers appear to be capable of the top bids, it likely won’t stop there. Here are some other possible suitors:
Baltimore: Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Jonathon Schoop could be nice long-term options for the Rays in some sort of package, as the pitching rich Orioles push for contention in the AL East.
Boston: Garin Cecchini, Mookie Betts, Henry Owens, Jackie Bradley, Jr., Blake Swihart, or one of Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks may be enticing for the Rays, though the Red Sox lack of youth may keep them from dealing from their future core, especially with the club’s lack of interest in expensive, long-term deals.
Seattle: James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Gabriel Guerrero, D.J. Pederson, and Victor Sanchez would be a nice group to choose from, and we all know that the Mariners think that they’re making a run for it after the Robinson Cano signing. Acquiring Price would be costly, but would strengthen an already strong Felix Hernandez–Hisashi Iwakuma led rotation.
Kansas City: Sean Manaea, Raul Mondesi, Jr., Kyle Zimmer, Jorge Bonifacio, Hunter Dozier, and Miguel Almonte are at the top of a Royals system that some was drained when they traded Jake Odorizzi and Wil Myers to the Rays for Shields. Dayton Moore may not have a strong manager and a strong win-loss record as the Royals GM, but the man can draft and develop talent.
David Price is very unlikely to finish the 2014 season in a Rays uniform. He would certainly be a huge addition with a huge cost for whatever team is gutsy enough to strike up a deal. Much like the C.C. Sabathia acquisition by the Milwaukee Brewers on July 7, 2008 (Sabathia went 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and 1.00 WHIP over 17 starts for the Brewers), the sooner Price can make an impact for the acquiring team, the better the deal will look, especially given the hauls.