While the trade deadline in recent years has proven anticlimactic and at times outright boring, this year is going to be different. This year, the best pitcher moved at the deadline won’t be Jake Peavy or Matt Garza. With no offense intended to either, neither one is a real frontline arm like the crown jewel of this summer’s trade season: Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price.
With the Rays all but officially out of playoff contention — they currently hold just a 1.7% chance of reaching the postseason — it’s essentially a guarantee that Price will be moved before the trade deadline. And Price is going to be the best pitcher traded mid-season in years.
Sure, Zack Greinke was dealt from Milwaukee to Anaheim in 2012, but Greinke wasn’t quite at the level that Price has established over the last few years. Not only has he been one of the game’s best pitchers, but Price has done it in the AL East, and while the division might not be what it once was, teams won’t have to worry about whether Price can handle pitching against the best hitters in the American League. Left-handed #1 starters don’t hit the market very often, and Price even comes with an extra bonus; he’s not an impending free agent.
Often, players of this caliber are only traded with a few months to go before they reach free agency. Greinke was shipped from Milwaueke to Anaheim with just a few months left on his contract, for instance, and the mid-summer market is often flooded with rentals who will only be around for half a season. Price, however, won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season, and so any team acquiring his rights won’t just get him for this playoff race, but for next year as well. And that extra year of team control is going to allow the Rays to ask for the moon.
If your favorite team wants to acquire David Price this summer, I hope you’re not too attached to any or all of their best young players, because the Rays are going to demand a king’s ransom in exchange for a year-and-a-half of Price’s services. But there’s a catch, and it’s one of the reasons why the Rays didn’t accept of the offers they received for Price over the off-season. While any team that acquires him will own his rights for 2015, the arbitration process has ensured that a large percentage of teams wouldn’t be able to afford him next year anyway.
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