David Price won his sixth consecutive decision in what could be his final start in a Tampa Bay uniform.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been down this road before. As Major League Baseball’s trade deadline draws near, the familiar question has come up yet again:
Is it time to deal ace David Price?
Price is widely considered as the best arm available at the deadline and teams are predictably interested. In fact, you could say they’re coming out of the woodwork.
On Friday night, the San Francisco Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates had scouts watching Price pitch against the Boston Red Sox, per Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. They weren’t the only ones, however. According to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, more than half of baseball’s teams had scouts in attendance (17 of them, to be exact) to watch both Price and Boston’s Jon Lester. The interest in Price is at an all-time high.
There isn’t often so much interest surrounding star pitchers around the deadline because often, they aren’t available. However, there’s a growing sense in baseball that Tampa Bay is finally resigned to dealing Price.
Buster Olney wrote a few weeks ago that the Rays were ready to trade him away. Plus, in addition to his contract nearing an end (he is arbitration-eligible in 2015, then a free agent), the team is now even considering dealing him away within the Division. Tampa Bay has always shied away from that in the past, but Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi wrote recently that the team is beginning to warm up to trading him in the American League East if the price were right.
That asking ‘price’ is going to be a high one that may be too steep for certain franchises. For example, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes Price is an ideal fit for the Tribe, but that the Rays would certainly want their top prospect, shortstop Francisco Lindor, in return — a price deemed too high. Other teams such as the prospect-heavy Pirates, who are often reluctant to deal away prime young talent, would almost certainly feel the same way.
For those that are willing to trade away the prospects needed to make a deal, there’s also the matter of Price’s contract to consider. Price is under team control for 2015, but is arbitration-eligible and will likely command upwards of $15 million. After that, the bank vault will need to be opened to keep him as Price will have his eyes on a long-term deal. If traded, his new team may have the money to keep him, but they also need to realize that he could be a very short-term player as he’ll have the ability to sign elsewhere after next season.
One monkey wrench in the operation of trading Price is that the Rays are surging. Once considered left for dead, Tampa Bay has won eight in a row heading into Saturday. The team is still 7 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East, but a manageable 4 1/2 games back in the Wild Card race. That kind of win streak could have management thinking of paying him for one more season in 2015, or trading him in this offseason when they have more time to field offers.
Theoretically, though, the time is right to deal Price. The Rays still have an uphill battle to reach the postseason this year and with a 3.08 ERA, he’s having another dominant season. His stock may never be higher and there’s always the risk of holding onto him too long and seeing him suffer an injury.
Tampa Bay should field the best offer and deal their biggest asset before the deadline.
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