It's time to put your general manager hat on and make a very important decision. Your team is in position to add one impact player prior to the 2014 season. You can either trade for Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price or sign free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. Which would be the better choice?
Before you make your pick, here's a closer look at each player, what it would take to acquire them and the potential impact they'd have on your ballclub.
The 31-year-old Choo, who posted an .885 OPS with 21 homers and 20 stolen bases for the Cincinnati Reds last season, is reportedly seeking a seven-year, $140 million contract, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted that the general belief is that whichever team goes to eight years will ultimately land him.
One of the best all-around players in the game—he is considered to be a plus-defender in a corner outfield spot and one of the best in the game at getting on base, to go along with a strong combination of speed and power—the left-handed hitting Choo is capable of hitting anywhere in the lineup and playing anywhere in the outfield. He led off and played center field for the Reds in 2013, although he might fit best in right field while hitting second or third in the lineup.
It's not out of the question for a player to remain healthy and productive through his ages 37-38 seasons, but the likelihood isn't very strong. In giving Choo seven or eight years and somewhere between $140-$160 million, a team should be satisfied with three to five great seasons, a couple of so-so seasons and at least one bad one.
That might sound like a terrible value, but that's what it'll cost to sign a player of Choo's caliber for the last few years of his prime.
With a projected 2014 salary of $13.1 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, and a 2015 salary that will most likely be in the $16-$18 million range in his final year under club control, the financial cost of acquiring David Price is quite affordable for most big league teams.
The necessary package of players it will take to trade for him, however, is not.
Teams without an elite prospect in their organization need not inquire on the 28-year-old left-hander. For those that do have at least one, realize that a willingness to include that elite prospect in the deal is imperative for the trade talks to go any further than the initial inquiring stage.
For two years of one of the best starting pitchers in the game—Price has a career record of 71-39 with a 3.19 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 8.1 K/9 and a 67 percent quality start rate in 973 innings—the Rays are setting their sights high in terms of what they'll need to receive in order to trade the former Cy Young award winner.
In last offseason's deal that sent pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis to the Kansas City Royals, the Rays received one elite prospect (outfielder Wil Myers), a good pitching prospect with a middle-of-the-rotation profile (Jake Odorizzi) and two other minor leaguers with some upside but not a great chance of becoming big league regulars.
You'll have to do much better than that to acquire Price.
What Would You Do?
Let's assume that your team has a decent-sized payroll and signing Choo won't completely handcuff you in your pursuit of other players in the future. But if Choo isn't productive over the first 2-3 years of the deal, you'll probably lose your job.
Now, let's say that your farm system is deep enough to where you could give up three of your top five prospects, including two that are considered among the top 50 in the game, and still not completely deplete it. But if Price doesn't help lead your team deep into the playoffs and he walks as a free agent following the 2015 season, while at least one of the players you traded for him is putting up big numbers with his new team, you'll probably lose your job.
Now make your pick. What's the better acquisition?