David Price and the Tampa Bay Rays recently avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract for 2013. The 27-year-old captured the American League Cy Young Award last season after posting a 20-5 record and league-leading 2.56 ERA, as well as 205-59 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 211 innings.
Price will 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.
As Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports originally pointed out, the left-hander’s new deal makes him a strong candidate to be traded before the end of the 2013 season. Due to the new collective bargaining agreement, the Rays would only be on the line to pay $6 million of the $10 million he’s technically owed. The remaining $4 million could ultimately be deferred to Price’s new organization—if he’s traded, that is.
Because Tampa Bay is an organization that prides itself on cultivation of young, big league talent, the Rays will likely once again aim to get younger with the return for Price. More specifically, they’ll likely address the few deficiencies in their system by targeting a high-ceiling pitcher and catcher, as well as a several up-the-middle players. As of now, There are only a few teams with the prospect pool to execute such a trade.
Let's take a look at a few of them:
The Rangers have made it clear that they’re very unwilling to part with Jurickson Profar, baseball’s top prospect. However, beyond the 20-year-old shortstop, the organization is absolutely loaded with young talent.
In a deal for Price, expect for them to deal a pair of top prospects in left-hander Martin Perez and third baseman Mike Olt, both of whom have been the subject of countless trade talks this offseason.
The Rangers could also potentially include middle infielder Leury Garcia, 21, who spent the 2012 season with Profar at Double-A Frisco, and 19-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro, who’s regarded as one of baseball’s more naturally gifted young backstops.
Not only would a trade for David Price give the Red Sox a legitimate and much-needed ace, it would also, technically, directly weaken a division rival. Although Boston’s prospect package may not contain as many high-level players as some other teams may ultimately offer, it does have players at all the right positions.
Jackie Bradley, a center fielder, could headline the deal given his ability to stick in center field, not to mention his proximity to the major leagues. And although Jose Iglesias will probably never hit, he’s the type of player who could benefit from a change of scenery; the sure-handed shortstop’s defense is among the best in the minor leagues and valuable in at least a reserve role.
The deal could also include left-hander Henry Owens and catcher Blake Swihart, who are both young, highly regarded prospects with loads of potential, but in need of significant experience in the minor leagues.
As the 2012 season unfolds—and depending on the Rays’ overall success—expect David Price’s name to be at the heart of endless trade rumors. However, don’t expect the Rays to move him for anything less than an ideal prospect package.