David Price thinks he has thrown his last pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays, according to a report by Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune, and the early rumors, as discussed by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, have the Arizona Diamondbacks listed as one of the potential suitors for the talented Price.
The thought of acquiring Price is tempting. As good as Price has been in his career and as desperately as the D'Backs need an ace to front the rotation, Arizona should avoid any trade for Price this winter.
If the D'Backs have shown anything over the past two seasons, it is that they are more than just one player away from serious contention. Last season Arizona finished with an 81-81 record again, leaving the franchise at exactly .500 over the past two seasons. It doesn't get more average than that.
While the 28-year-old Price is exactly the type of elite starter whom Arizona needs to have at the front of the rotation in order to compete in the NL West, the cost is too steep between prospects and a contract extension. Any trade with the Rays would likely have to start with either top pitching prospect Archie Bradley or promising lefty Patrick Corbin fronting a package of prospects.
Prospects are only just part of the deal, the other piece would be working out an extension with Price before he hits free agency. Price will likely command a deal somewhere between last winter's deal signed by Zack Greinke and the anticipated monster deal coming to Clayton Kershaw. The D'Backs would have two years of control with Price before he becomes a free agent in 2016 if no new deal is reached.
Are the D'Backs really willing to trade four prospects including Bradley or Corbin and spend roughly $150 million on one player? I would have a hard time justifying that type of move given the need for additional talent that needs to be added throughout the entire roster.
In order to compete with the Los Angeles Dodgers moving forward, the D'Backs will have to use brains instead of brawn to even the playing field.
The Rays are a model of a team competing against teams with far more money to spend. The St. Louis Cardinals are a model of having your franchise produce young, effective pitching. The D'Backs need to be emulating these two teams in order to change the dynamics of the division.
Arizona would need more than Price and Corbin at the front of the rotation. The only other dependable starter was lefty Wade Miley, meaning the rotation would still be a weakness without adding further arms. This is a team that needs to add two strong starters to the rotation and also address the bullpen, outfield and catcher position without subtracting Bradley.
Acquiring Price would be a flashy move that would get the fanbase excited in November. But, if it only leads to the team winning 82 or 83 games next season due to an overall lack of depth and talent, then the move will be viewed as a failure, no matter how well Price might pitch for the D'Backs.
The pressure is on D'Backs general manager Kevin Towers. It will be interesting to see how Towers operates this winter.
Stats and relevant player information obtained from Baseball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.