Ace pitcher David Price was roughed up Saturday night as the Rays dropped two games behind the Red Sox in the American League Divisional Series. If the team fails to come back in the best-of-five series, it's possible that Price may have pitched his final game with Tampa Bay.
Though Price remains under team control through 2015, trade rumors have been swirling as the low-budget Rays may not be able to afford Price's continuously rising salary. He made $10 million in 2013, and that is sure to increase drastically with two years of arbitration left. The Rays are saying the right things about wanting to keep him, but due to his contract and the fact they will get the biggest haul while he has multiple years left, the time may be now for a trade.
Should Tampa Bay officially put Price on the market, there should be no shortage of suitors for the 2012 AL Cy Young winner. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports the Rangers are the current favorites to land Price, with the Cubs, Diamondbacks, and four others mentioned as well.
The Rangers have been loathe to part with rookie shortstop Jurickson Profar in trades the past two years. Profar has been the number one prospect in the MLB, it's rare to see that kind of player moved so early in his career. However, no team was offering a player as good as Price in return. Further, the Rangers don't have much else to give up in return due to the acquisition of Matt Garza mid-2013. The Rangers also aren't desperate for a starting pitcher since they already have Garza and Yu Darvish atop the rotation with three above-average starters behind them.
There are also some questionable aspects to the Cubs' interest in Price. Though they have the assets to make a trade, they may not be in a position for a trade to make sense.
Chicago already had a good farm system, then loaded it further with the aforementioned Garza trade. The Cubs just traded away their ace half a year ago and finished last in the NL Central.
Nor do they appear poised to compete for the next couple of seasons. The Cubs would have to sign Price long-term for a trade to be a smart option for the team.
The Diamondbacks being a contender for Price appears to be based on the fact that they have top pitching prospect Archie Bradley, who was ranked the 25th-best prospect in the MLB by Baseball America each of the last two years. He moved up to No. 6 in their mid-season report after a phenomenal 2013 season spent mostly in Double-A. Arizona does lack a true ace and are an up-and-coming team that just posted a .500 season. They also have Tyler Skaggs as a top pitching prospect. Whether they would part with either player remains to be seen.
Also listed by Sherman as possible trade partners for the Rays are the Giants, Reds, Red Sox, and Padres. San Diego is the biggest surprise given the fact that they rarely make big splashes trading for a player, nor are they on the precipice of competing. They do have a nice, deep farm system, however. The Reds and Red Sox both made the postseason in 2013 and should compete again in 2014. Price may put either team into the next level, though Boston already was the best team in the MLB this year and Cincinnati already has a young and loaded rotation for a team that needs bats more than pitching.
The Rays have plenty of good, young pitching ready to take Price's place in the rotation. Matt Moore, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer are all already in the majors along with Jeremy Hellickson, who had a rough 2013. There are other top prospects coming through the system, as well.
Price will be a name to watch in the offseason. It could be the perfect time for the Rays to trade him and there will be no shortage of teams that would love to acquire someone of his caliber. Whether he is indeed shipped away will depend on if one of those teams meets Tampa Bay's "Price". That was pun based on the star lefty's last name.