Shortly before ringing in the New Year, David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract for 2013. Last season, the 27-year-old captured the American League Cy Young Award after posting a 20-5 record and league-leading 2.56 ERA, as well as 205/59 K/BB in 211 innings.
The structure of Price’s contract is interesting, as he’ll receive a $5 million signing bonus and approximately $1 million base salary for the upcoming season. The remaining $4 million of the contract will be deferred salary in 2014.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the left-hander’s new deal makes him a strong candidate to be traded before the end of the 2013 season:
So, what’s the significance of that $4 million deferral? Because the Rays won’t pay that money before next winter, the collective bargaining agreement allows them to negotiate a way for Price’s (theoretical) new team to assume that obligation.
In other words, the Rays could deal Price within the next year and end up paying only $6 million of the roughly $10 million he is owed on his 2013 contract.
As an organization that prides itself on player development and the cultivation of major league talent, the Rays will presumably aim to get younger with the return for Price. More specifically, they’ll likely address the few deficiencies in their system and target at least a high-ceiling pitcher and catcher, as well as a projectable center fielder and middle infielder.
Having said that, there are only a few organizations with the prospect depth to execute such a trade:
Players: LHP Martin Perez, 3B Mike Olt, SS Leury Garcia, C Jorge Alfaro
The Rangers have made it clear that they’re only willing to part with Jurickson Profar, baseball’s top prospect, in an ideal trade. However, beyond the young shortstop, the organization is stocked with young talent. Expect for them to include both left-hander Martin Perez and third baseman Mike Olt, both of whom have been the subject of trade talks this offseason.
To sweeten the deal, they could potentially include middle infielder Leury Garcia, 21, who spent the 2012 season opposite Profar on the Double-A Frisco infield, and 19-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro, who’s considered to be one of baseball’s more gifted up-and-coming backstops.
Players: RHP Taijuan Walker, SS/2B Nick Franklin, OF Leon Landry, C John Hicks
As we learned in the failed trade for Justin Upton earlier this month, the Mariners are willing to break up their highly regarded prospect pool to land a star-caliber player. In the deal—ultimately blocked by Upton—the organization had offered its top prospect, right-hander Taijuan Walker, and switch-hitting middle infielder Nick Franklin, as well as pitchers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor.
In a deal for Price, the Mariners would likely offer Walker and Franklin, once again, as both players are a potential fit in the Rays’ system. They could also entice them with catcher John Hicks, 23, and toolsy outfielder Leon Landry (acquired from the Dodgers in the Brandon League deal), who both enjoyed a breakout 2013 season in the California League (High-A).
Players: OF Jackie Bradley, LHP Henry Owens, C Blake Swihart, SS Jose Iglesias
Not only would the acquisition of David Price give the Red Sox a legitimate ace, it would also, in theory, directly weaken the divisional-rival Rays. Although it may not be as sexy as some of the other prospect packages that presumably will be offered, they have players at all the right positions.
Bradley, a center fielder, would headline the deal given his proximity to the major leagues. And even though Iglesias will probably never hit, his defense is outstanding and valuable in at least a reserve role. As for Owens and Swihart, they are both young prospects with loads of potential, but in need of significant experience.