Hoop’s Hot Corner: Questions on the David Price Saga
By Hamm Hooper
It has probably been the most asked question in baseball over the past month; will David Price be traded? For the Cardinal fans that are probably sick of hearing all the trade rumors surrounding Price, I have some somber news. The talks are only going to heat up as we are only nine days away from the trade deadline. Here are some questions surrounding the David Price Saga and my input on them. Feel free to leave comments discussing your views on the potential David Price trade; I would love to hear from you.
Will the Rays Trade David Price?
It has now become an issue of whether the Rays will even trade their ace. At one point, the Rays were bottom feeders in the A.L., posting a record of 24-42. Yet, all of a sudden the Rays have gone on a tear winning 23 out of their last 34 games, bringing them within 8 games of the A.L. East and only 6.5 back in the Wild Card. The Rays have been known to come back from large deficits before. St. Louis fans may remember that the same season the Cardinals improbably made the playoffs in 2011, the Rays also completed a historic comeback of their own as they were nine games back on September 3 but still managed to clinch a playoff spot in the last game of the season.
Yet, despite the Rays surge and recent history, the odds of them making the playoffs are still a longshot. On ESPN.com, the Rays only have a slim 7.6% chance of reaching the playoffs. The team is about to go through a brutal part of their schedule as they face St. Louis, Boston, Milwaukee, Los Angeles (A.L) and Oakland in their next five series. Four of those five teams are playoff-bound this year and even Boston has been playing good baseball so the odds are clearly not in Tampa Bay’s favor of gaining ground over the next few series.
Even if Tampa Bay believes they can somehow make the playoffs this year, what are the incentives to holding onto Price? Price will become a free agent in 2016 and the Rays will almost certainly not be able to pay him, a product of being a small-market organization who can only afford one superstar player; Evan Longoria. The stock on David Price has never been higher as he is currently in the prime of his career and pitching as well as anybody in baseball right now. In his last seven starts, Price is 6-1, pitched at least eight innings in every game except one, and hasn’t given up more than three runs during that stretch. Price even stated that “I’ve never been the pitcher that I am right now.” The arsenal that the Rays can get in return for Price will never be as good. Add that with their slim playoff chances and Price’s looming free agency leads me to believe that the Rays will move their ace.
The Cardinals should only trade for Price under what circumstances?
This is an easy one. The Cardinals should only make the trade if they are confident that Price will sign long-term with the team. There is no use in giving up the farm to rent Price if he is going to bolt for another city after a year and a half. This is where it gets a little dicey. How you can be confident Price will want to stay in St. Louis even if he gives you his word? Maybe he doesn’t like toasted ravioli or Imo’s. Maybe he thinks the Arch is a stupid structure.
Personally, I get the feeling that Price wants to play in a big city. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported that Price said Chicago “would be the coolest city to win a championship in right now.” Interestedly, the Cubs have somehow found themselves in the thick of the Price trade rumors as they have the prospects to trade for him as well as the feeling that Price would sign a long-term deal with them. For Cardinal fans, my worry would be that if St. Louis traded for Price, he might sign with Chicago after the 2015 season. At that point, the young Cubs would be in a better position to win and would presumably have more money to throw at Price than the Cardinals do. St. Louis is a great city with one of the best organizations and fan bases in baseball. But the glamour of Chicago coupled with the chance to bring the city its first championship since 1908 might be a big enough pull for Price.
Who is untradeable for the Cardinals?
In my eyes, and I’m sure this is where a lot of people will disagree with me; the Cardinals only have one player that is untradeable. If the Rays are asking for Oscar Taveras, you hang up the phone and don’t return their calls. You don’t trade the best hitting prospect in your organization since Albert Pujols period. If Taveras even has half the career that Albert has, I would consider that a win for the Cardinals. With the astonishing decline of Allen Craig and the atrocity of the Cardinals offense thus far this year, Taveras is too valuable to give up as he may very well be an everyday starter for this club next year.
However, I think every other prospect in the Cardinals farm system should be open for the Rays, even Carlos Martinez. I’ve been driving the Cardinals bandwagon for Martinez all season but it only seems fair that to acquire an All-Star pitcher like David Price; you should have to give up an All-Star caliber prospect. Now Martinez has all the potential in the world and we have seen flashes of it as he has begun throwing more innings as a starter. But potential is all Martinez has whereas Price has actual results. Price is smack-dab in the middle of his prime as he is only 28, four years younger than Adam Wainwright. He has already won a CY Young Award in 2012, something Wainwright has not won, and has started in an All-Star game earlier in his career than Wainwright as he started the 2010 Mid-Summer Classic. As mentioned before, Price is possibly pitching the best ball of his career right now and there’s no reason to think that this would subside should he get traded. Martinez has the potential to be an ace, but Price is an ace right now. While Lance Lynn has had a great season, Wainwright really doesn’t have a stud number two behind him. Price would be the Robin to Wainwright’s Batman and that tandem alone could carry the Cardinals to the World Series.
Now, it would be ideal if the Cardinals could keep both Martinez and Taveras and dig a little deeper into the farm system to find an offer for the Rays. Maybe the Rays would settle for some combination of Marco Gonzales, Shelby Miller, Craig and one of the Cardinals stud minor league outfielders in Stephen Piscotty or Randal Grichuck. That would be quite a hull for the Rays and one I think they would consider especially if they fall deeper out of the playoff race. But if Taveras and Martinez are excluded from any deal, the Cardinals should take it without a moment’s hesitation. Even if Martinez is included in a deal, the Cardinals should consider accepting that trade assuming Price would sign a long-term deal with the club.
What is the worst case scenario for the Cardinals?
The worst case-scenario for the Cardinals is that the Dodgers end up with David Price. In my eyes, the Dodgers and Cardinals are the cream of the crop in the N.L. and should collide again in the NLCS while the Nationals, Brewers, and Giants are a tier below. If the Dodgers acquired Price they would immediately become the favorites to reach the World Series. Can you imagine a four-man playoff rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Price, Zack Grienke and Hyun-jin Ryu. That would be a nightmare for the Cardinals especially since the club traditionally struggles against lefties (this year they are performing quite well as they rank 4th in the NL against southpaws), which all of those pitchers are excluding Grienke. I know Cardinal fans like to say they have Kershaw’s number, but I wouldn’t like my chances if I had to face him and Price four times in a seven game series.
What makes this idea more terrifying is that the Dodgers have the prospect to make this trade happen. Center fielder Joc Pederson is mashing the ball in the minors and is the Oscar Taveras caliber type prospect the Rays are probably looking for. The Dodgers already have an increasingly (while unproductive) congested outfield with Yasiel Puig, Andre Either, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Scott Van Slyke. What’s more, Crawford and Kemp already have massive contracts making them hard to move and Puig has solidified himself as an everyday All-Star. The Dodgers could easily send a package highlighted by Pederson for Price with the Rays seriously considering the offer.
As much as I hate to say it, I think the Dodgers will end up with Price assuming the Rays deal him. While some have said Pederson (along with other highly talented prospects) is too high a price for Price, I think an already aggressive ownership will get even more aggressive. The Dodgers want to win and win now. Pairing Kershaw with Price could bring the Dodgers the World Series.