Jim Mone/Associated Press
Will he or won’t he?
That is the question on everybody’s mind when it comes to Friedman’s decision regarding left-hander David Price and second baseman Ben Zobrist.
Given the Rays' poor performance on the field, the argument goes, Friedman should unload them and get as many talented players in return as he can. They do have a depleted farm system, and even if Matt Moore returns next season from Tommy John surgery, he likely won’t be at 100 percent until 2016, so why not move Price and Zobrist and build to contend at that time?
Then again, Friedman could just as soon hold on to each player in the hopes that the Rays will be a better offensive club in 2015. Wil Myers is hurt, after all, and guys like Zobrist and Evan Longoria aren't playing up to their normal levels. They have to be better at the plate next season, right?
And even if next year doesn’t get off to a good start, Friedman could easily move Price and Zobrist at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in 2015. In other words, what’s the rush?
Well, other clubs want Price, and are willing to pay dearly for him.
Look no further than the Oakland A's. When they determined that their No. 1 prospect, Addison Russell, was expendable in order to improve the rotation, they talked with the Rays about acquiring Price, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. That is a franchise-changing prospect the A’s were willing to part with for Price.
Zobrist is also the topic of recent discussions.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times noted that the San Francisco Giants, the Cincinnati Reds and the Seattle Mariners are all interested in the switch-hitter. That many teams interested in one player surely puts the leverage squarely in Friedman’s corner, and he can use said leverage to drive up the price.
Heck, the Mariners may be targeting both of them in a blockbuster deal sure to rewrite the AL West. Fox Sports’ Morosi tweeted late last week that Seattle is discussing the possibility of pulling off this trade.
Of course the likelihood of that happening is slim, but the larger point remains that Friedman would be able to demand a hefty return for the services of either player.
All things being equal, Price and Zobrist should be moved. The Rays don’t have the cash or the farm system to pass up on the opportunity.
That said, Friedman is a cautious GM and will likely play it safe. He will stand pat at the deadline and put each player on waivers. If a deal materializes from there, it will be on his terms. If not, he can always pull them off waivers and wait until next year.
Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference and are accurate through Sunday, July 20. Transaction, injury and game information are courtesy of MLB.com. Contract information was pulled from Cot’s Contracts.