The Tampa Bay Rays possess one of the most valuable trade chips on the market this offseason in 28-year old left-hander David Price. The 2012 AL Cy Young winner still has two years of team control left, and won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season. But there have been trade rumors about Price going back to last winter (though they've began to pick up steam this offseason), and a trade seems inevitable. But here we are, just days away from 2014, and Price is still a member of the Rays.
Do the Rays desperately need to trade Price? The sooner they trade him, the more value they'll likely receive. But saying that the club *needs* to trade Price isn't too accurate.
The main reason that the club would trade their ace is because of his salary. Price made $10.1125 million in 2013, his second of four arbitration seasons. He's projected to earn somewhere around $13 million in 2014, which would be around 20% of Tampa Bay's payroll. Assuming James Loney's $21 million contract is evenly spread over three years, the Rays have $46 million already committed to their 2014 payroll - which doesn't include arbitration raises for Price, Matt Joyce,, Sean Rodriguez, Jake McGee, Jeremy Hellickson, Jose Lobaton. MLBTR projects those players to earn a total of $23.6 million, meaning that Tampa Bay would be approaching their franchise-high $72 million payroll from 2010 if they don't trade Price.
The infusion of new national TV money into the coffers of major league clubs could allow for Tampa Bay to push their payroll to that high water mark. However, that might just be kicking the can down the road, as the Rays have to worry about contract options for Heath Bell, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, and Joel Peralta in 2015, while Alex Cobb and Desmond Jennings will enter their first year of arbitration. Without even considering the arbitration raises, the Rays would have upwards of $57 million committed to contracts next winter if all of the options are exercised.
Another reason the Rays don't necessarily need to trade Price - they're not a team on the downswing that needs to reload. Tampa Bay won 92 games in 2013, capturing one of the American League's two Wild Card spots and advancing to the AL Division Series, where they fell to the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox in four games. They bring back eight of their top nine pitchers in fWAR (including Price), and nine of their top ten position players in fWAR. This isn't the White Sox, who were awful and aging in 2013 with a bad farm system to boot. The Rays are still young and quite good, and dealing Price makes them much less of a contender.
If a trade does go down, it will happen soon. Andrew Friedman has traditionally not let major trade chips dangle in the wind past the first week of January. The James Shields/Wade Davis blockbuster last offseason happened on December 9th. Matt Garza was dealt to the Cubs on January 8th. Jason Bartlett was dealt to the Padres on December 17th. Edwin Jackson was shipped to the Tigers in December 10th. The Delmon Young-Garza swap took place on November 28th. Friedman likes getting his work done early instead of letting things linger.
There's one factor that hasn't been taken into account in regards to a possible Price trade, though - the lack of movement on the top-end of the free agent pitching market due to the uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka. With Tanaka finally being posted, teams will begin to spin the wheels on guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, and maybe Price if the bidding for Tanaka gets out of hand. If say, the Dodgers don't meet Tanaka's asking price, could they put together a package of worthy talent for Price just weeks before the beginning of Spring Training? Of course they can.
Although that raises another potential stumbling block in regards to a Price trade - can a team that needs an elite starting pitcher even give the Rays proper value for him? Tampa Bay isn't going to trade Price for two dimes and a nickel for no reason. If any club that may have interest in Price isn't willing to give up top-tier talent for him, the Rays aren't simply going to trade him for the sake of trading him. Considering all of the hurdles involved in a Price deal this late in a game, my gut tells me that he doesn't get moved - but that doesn't mean that he won't. If a club that misses out on Tanaka simply blows Tampa Bay away with a package of prospects next month, I don't think there's any question that Friedman will pull the trigger. But if teams continue to underwhelm the club, I'm sure he'll be more than happy if Joe Maddon sends Price to the hill on Opening Day at Tropicana Field against the Blue Jays.
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A trade that would be a win/win for both teams and fit with their time tables and needs to take them to the WS would involve the Angels. Angels critical need is for LH pitching and they will not get Tanaka, I know he is RH. The Angels need a big name stud pitcher.
Price and Dejesus for Trout.
Laugh if you want, but do not be surprised.
other possible trade partners for rays:
astros /twins / rangers / dodgers / cubs / royals
astros trade 1b singleton / ss cornia / of springer
rays trade price / hellickson / joyce / s rodrigez
twins trade buxton / sano /
rays trade price / hellickson / joyce / molina
rangers trade profar / ogando / feliz / moreland / martin
rays trade price / hellickson / joyce / escobar / molina / bell / nunez
dodgers trade top minor league -pitcher / of / ss
rays trade price / molina / hellickson
cubs trade baez / solar / amaro / top minor league pitcher / 2 PTBNL
rays trade price / hellickson / joyce / molina
royals trade s perez / b starling / top minor league pitcher / PYBNL
rays trade price / molina / loboton
fair or unfair trades?
i have considered possible trade partners:
Give me me yours thoughts.
CARDS: they want WS RAYS want < $ & prospects
rays trade- price (cy young) / zobrist (all star) / dejesus / joyce (all star) / hellickson (ROY) / molina / s rodrigez
cards trade tavares / wacha / rosenthal / wong / kozma
mariners trade walker / zunino / franklin / miller / montero
rays trade price / joyce / hellickson / molina / escobar / s rodrigez
This is a trade that any big market team should accept.
Unfortunately Rays are a small market team.
The reason they have to trade Price is that they can not pay him his market value.
Thus they can not pay Trout his market value either.
The exception would be if Trout is tried to a small contract for 4 or more years, then he would be affordable until he then would be traded.
I thought trumbo was a possible trade bait when angels had him and rays had not resigned loney.
I do not think angels have prospects to get price. Angels do have $$$$ to resign price in two years.
Rays will not trade price unless they get the high value prospects price value demands.
thanks for your reply
@WilliamAllenBethea none of those make any sense whatsoever for Tampa Bay. Why would the Astros even want to make that trade when Price is a free agent in two years?
@WilliamAllenBethea None of those trades make much sense for the Rays.
Why take prospects when you could possibly get the absolute real thing in Trout. Trout is under team control for 4 more years. Therefore, a worst case scenario is in two years the Rays now have Trout with two years to go instead of today having Price with two years to go. However, in those two years the Rays have added power, speed and average to go with their still strong pitching rotations. We made a WS appearance with hitting in the play offs and then fizzled in the WS with Philly. Longoria and BJ were hot at the plate. We need hitting and speed to go along with our pitching and defense to win it all. There is no downside to the Rays getting Trout and giving up Price. Many upsides including the accelerated development of Myers. Trout can help guide him. Additionally perhaps we can sign Trout after 1st year to long term contract like we did with Longoria. Trout may go for more today money and less tomorrow potential money. If Trout does not than two years from now we have the same situation, except we have Trout with two years to go instead of "prospects" or nothing.
With the Angels not performing, Trout's value is not enhanced as much as it would be in Tampa. Also playing in the AL East has it's East coast visibility perks that enhance value.
Final thought is I believe Price will regress a bit this season and his value will be further diminished.
I think Astros are moving into new ball park and perhaps want to win now. Maybe they would sell future for today.
If I were Astros fan I would not accept this offer. These prospects are expected to be starters at the major league level as early as next year.
Perhaps including SS Escobar would close the deal (or maybe DeJesus)
Price has 2 yrs control, he should be traded w/i next 1.5 years.
Rays have 3 catchers and molina is clearly #3 (& not going to the minors as player)
Price likes molina, so when price gets traded molina should be included.
Joyce was allstar, but is now 4th OF'er, his value will go down.
Hellickson had bad beginning & end last year, he is young and was ROY.
He is at crossroads, if he can return to ROY pitcher then his value will go up, but if he can not win starter spot in spring then his value will be zero.
As Rays fan I would like to use whatever value they have to get real propects.
@WilliamAllenBethea Houston is absolutely not moving into a new ballpark, and the goal has never been to "win now".