To Keep or Trade David Price

It seems like a foregone conclusion that David Price won’t be with the Tampa Bay Rays when spring training begins next year. In previous seasons, Tampa Bay has dealt Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza as the team entered costly years in the arbitration process. The Rays also traded James Shields to address team depth, despite his rather affordable contract, which means there’s plenty of history to suggest a move is in Price’s future.

Some of the statements put out there in recent weeks include concerns about Price’s declining velocity, about diminishing returns on value and whether the team can afford to keep the pitcher for even one more season. There’s no masking the fact Price threw with less velocity in 2013, even after returning from a stint on the disabled list while he recovered from a triceps strain. Price returned from the DL intent on becoming a more efficient pitcher, and he did so with aplomb. In fact, only Cliff Lee threw a higher percentage of strikes in the season’s final three months.

Price found gains in his new approach. Though he gave up a few percentage points in swings and misses, he put batters on the defensive and forced them to swing at his pitches, rather than the ones hitters preferred. Price increased his changeup use and generated more fly balls than he historically had in a season where the league-wide batting average on fly balls was 58 points lower than for grounders.

Some have compared Price’s timeline to those of Garza and Shields, but each of those situations was different from the one the Rays now face. Garza had three years of team control left when he was dealt to Chicago for Chris Archer, Sam Fuld and Hak-Ju Lee. The Rays felt comfortable trading Garza because they still had Shields, Price, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis — plus Alex Cobb and Matt Moore in the wings.

The organization reluctantly traded Shields — the owner of nearly every franchise pitching record — despite his affordable contract. In return Tampa Bay got Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi, players who strengthened future depth and could become the type of young  cornerstones the team failed to develop in the past few seasons. The impact of the Shields trade was mitigated a bit more by the fact Price could anchor the staff, which would allow the young trio of Cobb, Hellickson and Moore to continue their growth. Starter Roberto Hernandez, too, bought time for Archer and Odorizzi to continue their own improvements.

Unfortunately, Hernandez was the only pitcher who made each of his scheduled starts. The other four spent time on the disabled list and forced pitchers such as Alex Colome and Enny Romero to make earlier-than-anticipated starts at the major-league level. After Price, the rotation currently has Cobb, Hellickson, Moore, Archer and Odorizzi. That group, while talented, is not the same level of talent that was present when the other two notable trades took place. Current Steamer projections have Price as a 4.1 WAR pitcher for the 2014 season, which is just 0.1 WAR less than Steamer projects for the Moore-Hellickson duo.

The Rays thought they were an 85- to 87-win team before the 2013 season, yet the team still made the postseason because of how the offense exceeded expectations. If the team thinks it’s in a similar position heading into 2014, trading a 4-plus-win pitcher seems counterproductive. Trading Price before the season would leave it up to Cobb and Moore to front the rotation and would leave Colome and Romero as immediate insurance plans. What that group has in upside, it lacks in experience. That rotation, too, has the feel of a rebuilding team, rather than a contending one.

Lastly, Price is likely to make upwards of $30 million in these next two seasons before he becomes a free agent. Tampa Bay currently has just more than $23 million of committed payroll for 2014, with the ever-looming threat of payroll cuts due to poor attendance. The team already has saved money in the offseason with Kelly Johnson, James Loney, Jeff Niemann, Ryan Roberts and Luke Scott coming off the books. Matt Swartz projects the Rays to add approximately $30 million in payroll through the arbitration process, which would put the team payroll $5 million less than this past season’s before any needed additions are made. Those needs include a first baseman, another catcher and bullpen help.

Price’s 2014 contract would still allow the team to retain him — while cutting the current payroll — but it would limit their options to fill other needs. Conversely, moving Price’s contract would allow the organization to be more than just a bargain-basement shopper on the free-agent market. A trade would help bridge a talent gap at the upper levels of the minor leagues that was created by a combination of disappointing returns from recent drafts and injuries to players such as Lee and Brandon Guyer. One last factor in this conversation is the new monies from the the new national TV deal.  The new yearly revenues from that deal offers some wiggle room that was previously not there, as Wendy Thurm mentioned in her piece earlier this month.

Earlier this week, the Detroit Tigers seemingly cleared the way for Max Scherzer to stick around for a few more seasons by moving nearly $80 million off their books. That deal also eliminated an attractive trade possibility for other clubs. Some may think the Rays are in the unfortunate position of having to trade one of its most popular players because it doesn’t have the budget to retain him. But given the team’s current situation, the market and its budget, it could be the Rays that are in the enviable position of being able to sit tight, or let the market come to them. If that’s the case, perhaps Tampa Bay will find a way to pull off improbable trades in consecutive offseasons.




Print This Post





59 Responses to “To Keep or Trade David Price”

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
  1. Trade him for 150 million and invest it wisely. If Stu can get 5 percent on that 150 mill he can increase payroll to 750k-1mill a year and still keep the current margins!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Book_Worm says:

      Are you saying a team should trade for David Price, and then sign him to a deal worth $150M? Otherwise, I don’t see how this would make sense. If a team gave Tampa Bay $150M for David Price, they would still have to negotiate a contract with him, right?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • diegosanchez says:

        No, he has 2 years of arbitration left

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Book_Worm says:

          Okay, so it would break down like this:

          - Rays get $150M from the other team
          - The other team gets David Price for 2014
          - David Price gets the salary determined by the arbitration process.

          Do I have that right?

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Balthazar says:

          If there is ever a player worth keeping—and extending—in Tampa, Price is the guy. Dominating lefty with the repertoire to be highly effective even as velocity erodes, and showing that ability now. Price is in the same situation as prior TB pitchers, but isn’t really comparable. Garza and Jackson simply weren’t as good, and were fair bets to show higher variance in results as they aged. Shields was very good, but Tampa couldn’t afford him and Price, while the Rays at the same time had major roster needs. The return on Shields was as good as it gets; try finding another trading partner who’d give up a player as good as Myers in return for Price. Tampa Bay is also very much a playoff contender right now, despite their tiny payroll . . . but is very much unlikely to be without Price.

          Tampa has that MLB media and small market money, they can afford ONE signing if that is how they choose to spend it. At the very least, they keep price over the next two years while the team is in contention, and take the pick if he walks thereafter. If Tampa trades Price, it is simply confirmation that the team can never and will never succeed in their market, no matter how clever they are with development and acquisitions. One can imagine a situation where the offer for Price is SO GREAT that the deal has to be made. (Like, say, Taijuan Walker, Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, and another starting pitcher—*ughhh* I’m so glad that didn’t fly.) But realistically, David is the guy to keep if ever Tampa is going to.

          The Price is right. So keep him and pay him, while moving the parts around him so it all fits.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Uh no. Trade him for $150 mill cash. Period.

        -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Pre says:

          If you’re going to come up with a crazy pants plan, might as well go all out. Trade him for a billion dollars and buy every good free agent for the next decade.

          Price is good, but he’s not 80 million a year good.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Uh hello says:

          Assuming 8.2 WAR over the two seasons of team control and modest arbitration settlements, the buyer would be paying a cool $20M/WAR. That seems unlikely to happen.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Antonio Bananas says:

          Unless the Rays are a Nippon team that Price plays for, the Rays aren’t getting 150M straight up for him.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Teddy Rochlis says:

        well no it would be an extention and price would have his existing contract, there are trades of players for straight cash, the only one of magnitude i can think of is babe ruth for 125k

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Spencer Dean says:

          Which is very wierd. In Soccer, as far as I understand, you don’t trade prospects if you want another team’s good players, you give them great big pots of money, a la Manchester City.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • CS Yankee says:

        You might not get what the old school boxer is laying down and Dukes missed a digit on the calculator…they would have 7.5M$ annually under those numbers without touching the basis.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Eminor3rd says:

      Like an MLB gift card!

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Stinky Pete says:

      If Stu can get 5 percent on that 150 mill he can increase payroll to 750k-1mill a year

      Really? You think 5% on $150 million is about $1 million per year?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Alby says:

      You’ve heard of this guy called the commissioner of baseball, right? You’re aware that he has to approve trades in which any substantial amount of cash changes hands, right?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  2. Elijah dukes up says:

    Any potential trade partners? I’ve heard the cubs mentioned. Is there a potential match with stl, if Tampa throws in yunel maybe stl could afford a Wong/Adams/Kelly or Adams/Kelly/Jenkins ?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Wong/Adams/Kelly? For price? Price is better than shields and younger than Shields. Myers/Odorizzi/Montgomery would be the equivalent of Taveras/Wacha/Jenkins. Price is better though, so even more.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Elijah dukes up says:

        Price is definitely younger. But he is coming off the troubling injury issue and is much more expensive. Better? I don’t know if he’s so dramatically better that the cardinals would give up a ML ready starting pitcher with #2 or even #1 upside plus a future elite bat in Taveras.

        Were they “bananas” enough to include both of those players then they would not be throwing anyone else in.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Antonio Bananas says:

          I was just saying that’s what the cards would have to pay, not that they were dumb enough to do it. DM is a dumbshit, Mozeliak isn’t.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Simon says:

        Wacha/Jenkins>>>Odorizzi/Montgomery, and I don’t even like Wacha much.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. RMD says:

    Sure, they traded Garza and Jackson with a couple years remaining on their contracts, but Price is neither Garza or Jackson. He’s a special case that they should hold onto… to actually try and win a World Series.

    They could trade him for prospects and still make the 2nd Wild Card for the next few years. TB should treat Price as an exception to their plan. I don’t see them having the number one overall pick again anytime soon…

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Except that price could bring a prospect package that turns into more value than price brings. I’d rather be a playoff contender every year than be super good for 2 years then go back to mediocrity.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  4. Greg Mags says:

    Its all a fantasy, talking about buying players. MLB has not approved a cash for player deal in years, and they won’t start now. The Yankees, as I recall,back in the mid 70′s, tried to buy Joe Rudi from the A’s….deal was voided by MLB. I love to talk about potential trades, but lets make it real, or at least possible, and get some actual players involved.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • blahblahblah says:

      It was the Red Sox and it was actually Rudi and Fingers. Finley tried to sell the Yanks Vida Blue for a cool 1.5 million though

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David says:

      Your statement is obviously false. Plenty of players get dealt for cash considerations.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • jtmorgan says:

        For small amounts of money at least in regards to money spent in the sport. I believe you’re allowed to sell rights to a player up to certain amount which is only a couple hundred thousand if I remember correctly.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  5. FeslenR says:

    Price will definitely be dealt, I’d say-Dodgers, Cards, Pirates….in that potential order.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  6. Michael says:

    It doesn’t do them any good to continually trade their 4 and 5 win players. It’s wonderful that they get cheaper alternatives, even ones that end up being worth that same 4 or 5 wins, but they never seem to reinvest that money in a way that puts them over the top. For all of the money that was saved trading Shields for Myers, where did it all go? While there is something to be said about producing such good teams on so little a payroll, the fans don’t give a shit whether they win 90 or 70. What good is it for them to have this perpetual 87 to 92 win team that never ends up really competing for the title (minus the one World Series appearance)? They always have a whole group of prospects, but only so many end up being worth anything, and they hold onto them all. They NEVER trade any prospects. One of these years they need to nut up and trade some of those prospects for a couple big players to pair with their group of solid players, and go for it. Between revenue sharing, concessions, tickets, etc, they more than cover their payroll. It’s crap that they aren’t willing to push their payroll limit when they have a shot at a title. Why own a sports franchise if you aren’t willing to spend any money? Worst case, they take a loss for a year or two in profits, trade guys for prospects, and start over. They’ve proven how well they draft at the top of the draft. Price is a guy you try to win with.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Bryrob58 says:

      Someone remind this poor misguided chap how Escobar ended up in Tampa. Also, I think Longoria got a little bit of a pay raise there a while back. The rest of this is just silliness. I’ll take my 90 win team and the crapshoot that is the playoffs, thanks.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Garrett says:

      I’m a fan and i do actually give a shit about winning 90 games or winning 70 games. I’m proud the Rays have been to the post season 4 of the last 6 seasons. Winning the world series would be fantastic and i would love to do it, but i don’t agree with you that the Rays can’t win a world series. Anything can happen when you get to the post season and because the Rays haven’t won yet doesn’t mean they won’t win one with their current plan. I’m perfectly fine with the Rays staying the course and doing what they’ve been doing the last 6 years. Ask fans like the Astros, Marlins, ans Twins if they’d like to win 90 games a season in 5 of their last 6 seasons. It’s not world series or bust for every franchise in the MLB.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  7. Colin says:

    Right now who has more trade value Price or Scherzer? Think Price bc two years team control right? That said, decline is velocity and K rate has to be concerning.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  8. Joel says:

    Maybe Scott Boras is right?

    The Rays don’t have to move to New Jersey; they could also move to Charlotte or Portland, right?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jose says:

      Or maybe they could just move to Tampa

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Andre says:

      The Rays will not be moving out of the Tampa Bay area. Not to New Jersey, Charlotte, Portland or anywhere else. That will not happen. Here’s an idea if you want a baseball team up in New Jersey, Portland or anywhere else have a team like the Oakland A’s move there. The Rays are staying put!!!! Why don’t you become a Yankees or Mets fan and drive up the NJ Turnpike to watch one of those losing franchises play?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  9. Gyre says:

    Of course they will trade him. Name a pitcher that was big money there in the last 6-8 years.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. Chicago Mark says:

    Dang, you beat me to it Bryrob58. They did sign their one franchise player in Longoria. There’s no reason for them to change their stripes now. They will/have to trade Price to keep at least somewhat competitive in the future. There’s no way they spend more money until they get their new stadium in Tampa, Brooklyn or ???.
    Michael, the owner dictates what the GM can do. The owner will not spend any money. In fact, he takes as much into his pockets as he can. So the GM will do his best to stay perpetually competitive. And the only way he does that is by trading high priced players for lower priced alternatives.
    Trading for experienced prospects (already at A or AA) is less a risk than getting a top 5 or even number one pick. In the end a team only gets one shot at that #1 pick. If they fail they stay bad. If they get multiple prospects for Price they mitigate the risk. What a word!
    So trade it must and will be.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  11. Brett W says:

    The biggest impediment to trading Price right now is figuring out who is the buyer.

    Dodgers don’t have the chips (in my opinion, others disagree about quality of Dodger prospects), Pirates don’t have the payroll, Cardinals don’t have the desperation. Diamondbacks, Mariners, Padres, Royals all come to mind because of good systems, but none looks to me like an obvious fit. Price should probably go to a team like the Mets or Angels, but someone would have to come up with a very creative 3-way deal to make that happen.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  12. kamikaze80 says:

    For the love of god, let Tampa move wherever they want. It’s un-American and anticompetitive to force them to play in Tampa. Same with Oakland – let them move to San Jose.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  13. Ray Graham says:

    Why isn’t Alex Torres considered for rotation next season? He posted over a 1 WAR in middle relief last season. He has been a starter every season until 2013 callup. His numbers FIP, HR%, etc. speak that he deserves a chance to be in the mix next spring. He is more capable than a Romero/Colome spot and should soften blow of Price trade. Rays brass is too intelligent not to consider Torres as a #4 or 5.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Sam Young says:

      Alex Torres has been in winter league as starter. However, his performance is poor, and can’t make the pitches in the strike zone constantly.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  14. Sam Young says:

    I think Nationals is also a good trade parner.
    They can offer Carlos Rendon, Luis Giolito, A.J Cole and Matt Skole for David Price and Sean Rodriguez to improve their rotation and a the variability of S-Rod is useful in NL.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Garrett says:

      I agree but i don’t think the Nationals give up Cole too. Maybe trade out Cole for Ray and they would do it. Ray is more MLB ready and put up better numbers over the last 2 seasons. That way the Nationals could still keep a potential top of the rotation arm and the Rays get more depth in the upper minors. On top of that i think that Giolito is the real deal adn will be ranked a top 10 prospect next season.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Shauncore says:

      That’s a little too much IMO for Price.

      Rendon and the others could happen, but I’d doubt a trade including Anthony Rendon AND Giolito. Especially since Giolito himself is one of the better pitching prospects in all the minors.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Sam Young says:

        I think you totally overvalue Lucas Giolito and Anthony Rendon. The former haven’t hit the top 50 prospects list, and the latter still need to prove his talent in major league. Moreover, these two prospects have serious injury history before.

        Rays can get the package including Wil Myers(BA #4 MLB#4), Jake Odorizzi (BA #92 MLB #45) and a former top prospect, Mike Montgomery in the trade of James Shields, a number two starter, but can’t get Lucas Giolito (BA #67 MLB #74) and Anthony Rendon (BA #30 MLB #28) in return when they trade out last year CY winner…I don’t think this stance is logical.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Dan M says:

    Send Price to Flushing with Mike Montgomery, and Jeff Ames for Ike Davis, Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Rafeal Montero, and Domino Tapia.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. Dan M says:

    Sean Rodriguez is a free agent
    not a tradable commodity

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Dan M says:

    Mark You are also forgetting about maybe one of the best extensions ever in Matt Moore

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Dan M says:

    ok so i exaggerate as one of the best ever but at the price of that contract one of the 10 best in the last decade

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. William Balderson says:

    Yankees will take him for what ever Rays want or will get him later in FA.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>