MLB Trade Speculation: Why David Price for Elvis Andrus Is Win-Win Scenario

Robert KnapelCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2012

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 16:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 16, 2012 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Would the Tampa Bay Rays really ever consider dealing David Price? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has thrown out the idea that the Rays should think about it this winter.

This idea certainly sounds a bit crazy, and Rosenthal does acknowledge that fact right from the start. However, Rosenthal discusses he believes Elvis Andrus, Martin Perez and Cody Buckel could be enough to entice the Rays.

At first glance, this deal does not seem to make much sense for the Rays. Why would they trade Price, who has been to the All-Star Game the past three seasons and established himself as one of the best pitchers in the American League?

The answer to this question, according to Rosenthal, is because his salary will rise drastically in the next few years. As Price goes through arbitration, his salary will rise and Rosenthal sees him making over $13 million in 2014. While the Rays could probably afford to pay Price that amount, Rosenthal sees it as a reason to make him a trade candidate.

Even if the Rays can afford to pay Price, the suggested deal makes a lot of sense from both sides. Dealing an ace is almost impossible to do, but it can happen for the right package.

Tampa Bay has had a problem at shortstop for the past few seasons and has not been able to find an option to fill it. The Rays do have top prospect Hak-Ju Lee, but he has struggled both offensively and defensively since he was moved up to Double-A this season.

Elvis Andrus has already distinguished himself both offensively and defensively at the age of 23. He has posted the highest WAR total of any shortstop in the major leagues this season and the third highest total of any shortstop over the past three season (h/t FanGraphs).

Andrus is set to become a free agent after the 2015 season, but the Rays would certainly try to lock him up if they acquire him.

Imagine a left side of the infield that features Evan Longoria and Andrus. This pairing would likely be the best in the major leagues.

Also coming to Tampa in the suggested deal would be highly touted prospect Martin Perez. He was ranked as Baseball America's 31st best prospect coming into the year.

Thomas Belmont of Baseball Instinct notes that Perez does have ace potential, but the much more likely scenario is that Perez will be a solid No. 2 starter for a long time.

The 21-year old Perez has already made three starts and three relief appearances in the majors this season. As a starter, Perez looked good, going 1-1 with a 2.60 ERA and nine strikeouts in 17.1 innings. While this is obviously a small sample size, it does show some of the promise that Perez has.

Perez could slot into the middle of the Rays rotation next year, and while he certainly would not replace Price, he should put up some pretty good numbers.

Having Matt Moore and Perez as the one-two punch in their rotation could keep the Rays competitive for a long time considering both would be under contract for most of the decade.

The third piece that the Rays would get back in the suggested deal is Cody Buckel. While Buckel lacks the star power of Andrus or the repertoire of Perez, he is still a solid prospect.

Buckel was ranked as the eight best prospect in the Rangers' system this season by John Sickels of Minor League Ball. Sickels also noted that Buckel has middle-of-the-rotation potential.

The Rangers started Buckel off at High-A this season and he tore through the level to the tune of a 5-3 record with a 1.31 ERA in 13 starts and earned a promotion to Double-A. While things have not gone as well for Buckel at the Double-A level, he is still just 20 years old and his peripherals are good.

Tampa Bay has a tremendous track record of developing starting pitchers and it could make sure that Buckel reaches his full potential.

Adding a pitcher like David Price this winter would give the Texas Rangers a tremendous boost. Matt Harrison has pitched well for the Rangers, but they are without a true ace. Price would obviously solve that problem.

There could be some big changes in Texas this winter with Josh Hamilton and Colby Lewis' impending free agency. Texas may be forced to make some moves and trading for Price could be one of them.

If the Rangers find a way to keep Hamilton and bring in Price, then they have to be considered the early 2013 World Series favorites.

Dealing Elvis Andrus would certainly impact the Rangers lineup, but they already have a potential replacement waiting in the wings. Jurickson Profar, Baseball America's No. 2 prospect at midseason this year could be ready to take over at shortstop.

Profar has been able to handle the pitching in the Double-A Texas League fairly well this year at the young age of 19. He has a .278/.361/.456 line to go along with 14 home runs and 15 stolen bases on the year.

In fact, Profar has performed well enough that the Rangers are considering calling him up in September. If Profar can handle this, then the Rangers may be more inclined to deal Andrus this winter.

While dealing David Price certainly does seem crazy, such a deal may actually make sense when you really break it down.