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While Tampa Bay would prefer to avoid facing David Price when taking on another team in the AL East, the Rays are not opposed to dealing their ace within the division, according to the latest report from Morosi.
We've operated under the assumption that the Rays would be willing to deal Price to a division rival if said rival was willing to pay their asking price, which figured to be higher than it would be for say, the Atlanta Braves. But Morosi's report is the first real confirmation that we've gotten.
It makes sense, as both Boston and Toronto have the prospects to satisfy the Rays and the finances to keep Price around for the long haul. Interestingly enough, the Red Sox were not one of the four teams Morosi discusses as a possible Price destination, while the Blue Jays were.
That said, ESPN's Buster Olney (subscription required) says that the consensus aroud baseball is that shipping Price out of the American League entirely remains the team's preference:
Rival officials believe that the Rays’ preference is to deal Price to a National League team, and the Cubs’ trade with Oakland did not interfere with that. In fact, Price now stands alone as an elite option in the pitching market; he's unencumbered by the injury questions tagged to Cliff Lee, or the whopper salary obligation that is attached to Cole Hamels. It was a seller’s market even before the Samardzija trade, and now (Tampa Bay GM Andrew) Friedman has a one-of-a-kind item to dangle.
Morosi named a pair of National League clubs—Los Angeles and St. Louis—that, along with Seattle and Toronto, stand as the teams best equipped to make Tampa Bay the most enticing offers. While Price would make sense for all four clubs—and all four have the prospects it would take to strike a deal—things aren't really that simple.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in his latest video report that nearly 70 percent of the Dodgers market cannot watch the team play due to a dispute between Time Warner Cable and Direct TV. Adding a player of Price's caliber could, perhaps, force the corporations to come to an agreement.
But, as Heyman recently reported, they aren't interested in a deal that includes "most" of their top five prospects, which is reportedly what the Rays told the Dodgers it would take to land Price.
Seattle was considered the favorite to land Price over the winter, but the Mariners weren't interested in a package that began with young starters James Paxton or Taijuan Walker, as Heyman noted back in December. It's unlikely that a package without either of them would be enticing enough for the Rays.
Trading away young, controllable talent has never been the Cardinals' way of doing things, but general manager John Mozeliak is a realist, as he recently told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The clock is ticking. It’s not June 1. There is an emphasis right now on the change internally that we need to see. We’ve been a little patient and we hope to see that happen as we consider whether we can or need to jump start it with a deal.
Perhaps if the Rays were willing to expand a potential deal by including 2B/OF Ben Zobrist, who would fill a gaping void in the middle of the diamond for St. Louis, the Cardinals could be more apt to surrender some of their young talent.
As for Toronto, Morosi says that a package including two of the team's three best prospects—LHP Sean Nolin, OF Dalton Pompey and RHP Aaron Sanchez—could be enough to land Price. But there's been no indication from the Blue Jays that they'd even consider such a proposal.
At this point, it's impossible to handicap the field and label one team a clear favorite in the Price sweepstakes, though Los Angeles and St. Louis look like the most logical destinations.