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Friday, December 20, 2013

Rosenthal: Can Rays trade David Price and remain a contender?

Don’t know WTF they’ve done to the Fox Sports page…but at least Robothal is still there.

If the Rays stunk, this would be easy. They would trade left-hander David Price to the team that offered the best package of prospects, and that would be that.

Thing is, the Rays don’t stink, just as they didn’t stink a year ago, when they traded righty James Shields to the Royals. Quite the contrary – the Rays will be trying to make the playoffs for the fifth time in the past seven seasons, and that only complicates their decision on Price.

The Rays will not and cannot quit on 2014. So, if they trade Price, they’re going to want the same type of major-league ready talent they got for Shields, if not better. Two of the four players that they acquired for Shields, outfielder Wil Myers and right-hander Jake Ordorizzi, contributed in the majors last season – and Myers won AL Rookie of the Year.

Knowing the Rays, they will be flexible – if their best deal is prospect-driven, then that is the deal they will make. Indeed, their price points almost certainly vary from suitor to suitor, depending upon what each team could offer.

Acquiring “now” players would be the Rays’ preference, enabling them to gain back some of the short-term value they would lose by trading Price. The right fit, though, could prove elusive, considering that Price is even more accomplished than Shields.

The Rays could always keep Price, then entertain offers for him again at the July 31 non-waiver deadline, when he still would be available for two pennant races to any team that obtains him. But they would run the risk of Price getting injured or performing below his usual standards in the first half, lowering his value.

Repoz Posted: December 20, 2013 at 05:55 AM | 29 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: rays

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   1. BDC Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:19 AM (#4621536)
'bout what I was going to say based on the headline. Trade him for another Wil Myers or two, and absolutely they can remain a contender.
   2. John Northey Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:41 AM (#4621544)
Yeah, trick is who they get for Price. If they get near ML ready talent then they probably won't skip a beat. If it is talent from A ball though then they might have issues in 2014/5 but be strong for 2016 and beyond. I suspect a trade is coming. A gutsy move would be to get a few Jays pitching prospects for him (no shortage here) as few GM's like trading within their division but in this day of the dual wild card you gotta take the deals where you can get them. No idea what would work for them though or what they want. Odds are the Rays have a specific target player or two in each organization and are chasing those specific targets.
   3. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 20, 2013 at 10:16 AM (#4621555)
It took an assist from the Red Sox collapse but going into 2011 they had lost their star left fielder, first baseman, and pretty much every key member of their bullpen to free agency. They also traded away their #3 starter and shortstop without getting a huge amount of immediate value in return. I think they can weather the loss of someone who was at best their #2 starter last year and is no guarantee whatsoever to live up to his ace reputation.
   4. Nasty Nate Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4621594)
Why not just keep him and try to win in '14? They have a tiny payroll even with his salary.

...and is no guarantee whatsoever to live up to his ace reputation.

The same could be said for Kershaw, Scherzer, Darvish, Wainwright, Felix etc....
   5. NJ in DC Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM (#4621601)
Price's reputation outstrips his value/performance IMO. I agree with [3].
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4621604)
Price's reputation outstrips his value/performance IMO.


This is only relevant if his reputation among potential trade partners (i.e. actual GM's) outstrips his value/performance.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:32 AM (#4621605)
Price's reputation outstrips his value/performance IMO.

He's a legit #1. Top-10 pitcher in the league. And has been very consistent.

Is his reputation more than that?
   8. Tony S Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4621613)
Trading strategies that start with "let's trade player X" rather than "let's acquire player X" tend to not usually work out so well...

I'm with #4. Why not just keep him, and if he walks away next year, take the draft pick?
   9. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 11:46 AM (#4621617)
I wonder if fleecing the Royals out of Wil Myers for James Shields has caused Friedman and company to set their expectations too high. I might have traded Myers for Price in the Royals' position, but I certainly wouldn't have traded anything else of significant value along with him. But the Rays may now feel that they'd rather not read "RAYS GOT LESS FOR PRICE THAN THEY DID FOR SHIELDS, WHAT A BAD TRADE" in the headlines.

Then again, it's still early in the winter and the Rays are probably well advised to sit on Price a while and see if someone gets desperate and makes a stupid offer. I would be inclined to hold onto him all year if no stupid offers come in. Francisco Liriano blows out his elbow in spring training and suddenly the Pirates have to have an ace if they hope to contend and are willing to part with Gregory Polanco.

If you hold onto Price into spring training and the season he could get hurt, as pitchers often do. Then again, someone else's ace could get hurt and then you might find a very good offer on the table.

It doesn't seem to me that the Rays are near a position where they have to trade Price.
   10. Select Storage Device Posted: December 20, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4621633)
The Rays are simply doing what they have always done under Mr. Friedman. They're patient. Shields rumors were prevalent for a good while before the deal actually happened. They simply kept Bossman and Crawford. I don't see any reason that the Rays feel obligated to get rid of Price. They'll hold 'em until someone wants to give them a deal they like a lot.
   11. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 20, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4621711)
Shields rumors were prevalent for a good while before the deal actually happened. They simply kept Bossman and Crawford

The difference is that Price is set to make a lot more in arbitration than BJ and Crawford. If no one offers Wil Myers the Rays may have to take a couple of B+ pitching prospects if they're in a money crunch. The climate is different than it was when the A's got Gio Gonzalez and Fautino de los Santos for Nick Swisher. Nowadays that may get you David Price.
   12. Russ Posted: December 20, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4621727)
Francisco Liriano blows out his elbow in spring training and suddenly the Pirates have to have an ace if they hope to contend and are willing to part with Gregory Polanco.


I was just about to post that I wish the Pirates would move someone for Price right now, because counting on Liriano as the number 2 starter behind Cole seems extremely suspect to me. The Pirates last year because they had a system of OR gates set up. They got a lot of unexpected value from Locke, Liriano, Morton, and Wilson, but they didn't get unexpected value from (or they got unexpected injuries from) Sanchez, Rodriguez, Contreras, and McDonald.

When you're a mid-to-small market team, you have to go to camp with several plausible redundancies and give yourself the most chances that at least one of them will work out. Pre-Huntington, the Pirates were really bad at this... since NH came aboard, they have gotten much better.



   13. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 01:41 PM (#4621729)
Why not just keep him, and if he walks away next year, take the draft pick?

To be clear, Price won't be a free agent until *after* the 2015 season.
   14. cmd600 Posted: December 20, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4621775)
I wonder if fleecing the Royals out of Wil Myers for James Shields has caused Friedman and company to set their expectations too high


Supposedly they asked for Santana, Salazar, and Lindor when the Indians inquired about Price. So, I'd say, yeah.
   15. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 20, 2013 at 02:49 PM (#4621798)
Apparently asked for Alex Wood, Christian Bethancourt plus two top tier prospects (probably including Lucas Sims) from Atlanta. That's a BIG ask.
   16. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 20, 2013 at 07:05 PM (#4621948)

I was just about to post that I wish the Pirates would move someone for Price right now, because counting on Liriano as the number 2 starter behind Cole seems extremely suspect to me.


I agree; I think (a) counting on Liriano is a bad gamble, and (b) as presently constructed the Pirates are non-contenders if Liriano gets hurt again.

But I would not give up Polanco for Price. Polanco is very nearly ready, he's an awesome glove (better than Marte and McCutchen) and is Carlos Beltran Lite--he does everything pretty well. Six cheap years of that player is worth far, far more than two below-market-but-sort-of-expensive years of Price.

Now I would trade just about anything in the system except Polanco for Price. Reportedly they talked about it and the Rays asked for Polanco, Taillon plus more. (Myers was a better prospect than Polanco, and Shields is a worse pitcher than Price, so this is not surprising.) The Myers-Shields trade was a megablunder for the Royals because they had a black hole in right field and Myers was standing ready to fill it--thus, Myers was worth as much as Shields right now, making it insane to trade six years of Myers for two of Shields. The Pirates are in exactly the same position with Polanco. Price will likely be worth a couple wins more than Polanco in 2013--if nothing else because Polanco won't be up until around the All-Star break at best--but that's not nearly as likely in 2014 and unlikely beyond that. The Pirates' window is open until 2018. I think Polanco is an important piece for that window.

Taillon, Glasnow and Hanson is probably too much, but I'd happily part with any two of them plus a couple low-minors prospects.
   17. ptodd Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:35 PM (#4621974)
Price going on the DL for 6 weeks after an awful start and then coming back and pitching to contact with a declining K rate has me suspecting his arm may be a ticking bomb.
   18. ptodd Posted: December 20, 2013 at 09:37 PM (#4621976)
The Rays have not done that well in the draft in recent years, so they have no choice but to trade guys like Shields and Price to get young cost controlled players
   19. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:17 AM (#4622029)
...and is no guarantee whatsoever to live up to his ace reputation.
The same could be said for Kershaw, Scherzer, Darvish, Wainwright, Felix etc....


It's not about the inherent fragility and unreliability of pitchers, it's Price specifically. He has pitched four full seasons in the majors plus 2/3 of one in his debut as a starter.

ERA+ (starting with 2009): 98, 144, 108, 150, 114

That's nobody's definition of a consistent ace, it's an ok rookie season, two great years, and two merely good ones. Is the team that ends up with Price going to get a good starting pitcher? Yes, it's highly likely. Are they getting an ace that could be in the Cy Young conversation? Eh....maybe.

I don't expect the Rays to get a massive haul for him, partly because other GMs are almost certainly going to be less than 100% confident that they're getting that true #1 starter. Doesn't hurt to try though, despite the crazy amount of activity so far it's still 11 days from the end of December and the top end of the starting pitching market hasn't moved yet. If anything the offseason results so far help the Rays hopes for a big package; Tanaka may not be available and the lower and mid-tier pitchers that have signed so far have done very well financially. In a world where Mike Pelfrey gets 2/11, 41 year old Bartolo Colon gets 2/20, and Jason Vargas can demand and get four years guaranteed, it suddenly doesn't look quite so crazy to pay the, uh, price to get Price.

Do they have to move him? No, they've said they have the budget flexibility to keep him and historically they've been perfectly willing to keep players around when the media buzz is suggesting they make a trade (and Price isn't even a free agent after this season). I think they'll keep him if they don't get a trade on their terms but I expect he will get traded in the end, just not for what they're asking now.
   20. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 01:11 AM (#4622040)

That's nobody's definition of a consistent ace, it's an ok rookie season, two great years, and two merely good ones.


I think you're definition of "ace" is much too high.

Let's take some aces:

Brett Saberhagen ERA+ first five years: 115, 143, 102, 136, 106
Ben Sheets ERA+ first five years: 90, 98, 97, 162, 128
Orel Hersheiser: 133, 171, 90, 131, 149 (not including rookie season)
Johnny Cueto: 91, 95, 112, 171, 128
David Cone: 103, 145, 93, 117, 111 (not including rookie season)
   21. PreservedFish Posted: December 21, 2013 at 04:21 AM (#4622061)
Sometimes I prefer BBRef WAR, sometimes Fangraphs WAR. In this case, I think the Fangraphs WAR might be getting more of the story.

David Price WAR, first five years: 1.3, 3.9, 4.3, 4.8, 4.4
His FIP: 4.59, 3.42, 3.32, 3.05, 3.03

I think he's been about as consistent as you could ask a pitcher to be. The bottom line has bounced around a bit, for reasons that aren't immediately apparent to me.

Last year was an interesting departure from the norm: his fastball velocity was somewhat down (still excellent at 93.5), he started throwing more off-speed pitches, and his BB rate dropped to Tewskburian levels. I don't know what that means for his future. But, maybe, it shows that he he has amply compensated for a loss in velocity by improving other aspects of his game.

If Price isn't an ace, then you are restricting the term basically to pitchers that are pitching at no doubt Hall of Fame quality: Kershaw, King Felix, Verlander, Cliff Lee ... those might be the only guys that are clearly ahead of Price.
   22. Jim Wisinski Posted: December 21, 2013 at 09:44 AM (#4622075)
I think you're definition


ERECT THE GALLOWS!

I'm not sure why the first five years of a player's career are what matters, plenty of pitchers have had a couple real nice years in their first five seasons and then gone on to have future performances that teams would never have been happy giving up top prospects for; it's just that with Price the five seasons are all we have right now. Here's the question: Based purely on Price's performance history, is it not just as likely that he's going to turn in a 110 ERA+ for the next two seasons as it is that he's going to give you an ace season? If that's what happens is a team going to be happy with their return if they give up a huge prospect package for him? Probably not, so I think teams are going to be wary. Someone will still give up something real nice in the end though, he's likely to be a good starter and teams need to improve.
   23. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:32 AM (#4622093)
But the ERA+ of James Shields the four years before the Royals traded Wil Myers for him are: 105, 75(!), 134, 109.

Shields worked out FAR better in 2013 than the Royals had any right to expect (yet it was still a stupid trade). Price is obviously a far better pitcher than James Shields was on the best day of his life. It's neither surprising nor unreasonable that the Rays are likely going to hold out for something better than what they got for Shields (a very tall order) or keep Price.
   24. BDC Posted: December 21, 2013 at 10:47 AM (#4622095)
an ace that could be in the Cy Young conversation? Eh....maybe

Wouldn't Price have already proven he's in that conversation, by definition? :)
   25. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 12:53 PM (#4622135)
I'm not sure why the first five years of a player's career are what matters, plenty of pitchers have had a couple real nice years in their first five seasons and then gone on to have future performances that teams would never have been happy giving up top prospects for;


Yes, which is why I pre-selected for 'aces'.

Based purely on Price's performance history, is it not just as likely that he's going to turn in a 110 ERA+ for the next two seasons as it is that he's going to give you an ace season?


My point is that a pitcher for whom an 110 ERA+ season is a floor is an ace.
   26. Misirlou is on hiding to nowhere Posted: December 21, 2013 at 01:05 PM (#4622144)
My point is that a pitcher for whom an 110 ERA+ season is a floor is an ace.


Steve Carlton comes to mind. ERA+ in 5 year blocks starting in 1969:

164
111
102
182
97

118
105
113
153
126

106
162
151
119
116

Or Warren Spahn, starting in 1947:

118
170
105
124
122

124
122
188
119
115

125
130
116
119
98

Or Tom Glavine:

94
153
134
126
106

137
147
141
168
109

135
125
140
93
119

Hmmm, all lefties, like Price.
   27. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: December 21, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4622173)
I'll throw this out there: I'm a big James Shields fan, in part because I think he is a lot more valuable than many perceive him as being. He is consistently above-average, sometimes excellent, and he is as durable as anybody in baseball. I think above-average pitchers who never miss starts are as valuable as any commodity in baseball...but because he does not have the peak of an undisputed "ace".

Price is an excellent pitcher, obviously, and (like Shields last year) you get him for two years if you acquire him. However, while he is a pretty durable guy, he is not quite as durable, and there are some signs from last year that he may be less so in the future than he has been in the last several years. Maybe. His peak is seen as that of an "ace", but...

...who would you rather have for the next, say, three years: David Price, or James Shields? I don't think the answer is that clear...but I think the Rays are marketing Price as a meaningfully better pitcher than Price. I say, hold on to Price, but if somebody offers you something close to what you got for Shields, you take it. Especially a young power bat.
   28. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: December 21, 2013 at 02:30 PM (#4622193)
No personal disrespect but you are out of your mind if you'd rather have James Shields than David Price over any period of time ranging from one inning to all eternity.
   29. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: December 21, 2013 at 02:46 PM (#4622201)
Taillon, Glasnow and Hanson is probably too much, but I'd happily part with any two of them plus a couple low-minors prospects.

I don't see the Rays doing better than that, but I never thought the Royals would give up what they did for Shields.

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