That question has lingered like the region’s humidity as July crawls towards August. It will be answered some time in the next 10 days.
As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, Rays general manager Andrew Friedman has several options, should he choose to deal his ace.
ESPN.com's Jim Bowden wrote last week (subscription required) that the Rays are seeking an elite prospect and a top prospect in return for Price.
...there are only a few organizations that have that type of package to offer, including the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals, Cubs and Minnesota Twins, and the latter two teams aren't really a fit for Price.
Bowden neglected to mention Seattle as a possible destination.
Seattle has the pieces.
CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reported on July 18 that the teams entertained a deal centered around Walker for Price.
“It's all thought to be in the early stages," Heyman wrote, "and Tampa's requests are not necessarily unreasonable for an ace such as Price, who is on a major hot streak and leads the AL in strikeouts and innings.”
Why has Seattle re-opened talks involving Walker after balking during the offseason?
The Mariners currently hold the second AL Wild Card. ESPN.com gives them a 57.9 percent chance of playing postseason baseball.
Price, who is on quite a roll (see table), would fortify a rotation that ranks seventh in MLB with a 3.47 ERA. Joining Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, Price would elevate Seattle’s rotation to an elite level.
|David Price's Last 10 Starts|
No American League team would have a more formidable 1-2-3 punch.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo writes that the Mariners are not concerned about a long-term commitment from Price. Having him for the 2014 stretch run and all of 2015 would make the deal worth the price.
Justifiably so. Seattle hasn't made the playoffs since 2001.
Of course, there's no guarantee Price transforms the Mariners into a postseason lock. But he considerably helps their chances.
|American League Playoff Chances|
St. Louis, meanwhile, is reportedly interested in Price only if the southpaw agrees to sign an extension, per Cafardo.
With Jaime Garcia down for the count and Michael Wacha undergoing a third MRI on his shoulder, the Cardinals could use another starter. Price and Adam Wainwright would be quite an imposing duo atop a postseason rotation.
Hardball Talk's Drew Silva speculated Sunday about Tampa Bay's asking price.
The Rays will probably demand Oscar Taveras or Carlos Martinez from St. Louis — perhaps even both of them — so the Cardinals will want to be sure this isn’t just a rental situation if they do spin a trade for Price. The 28-year-old lefty is making $14 million this season and is arbitration-eligible for the final time in 2015.
Baseball America pitted Taveras at No. 3 and Martinez at No. 31 on its preseason list of top prospects.
There's no word yet on Price's eagerness to commit long term to the Cardinals, so a potential deal remains doubtful—for now.
Bowden claimed last week that Los Angeles was Price's most likely landing spot. But the Dodgers, he writes, are not yet willing to part with top prospects Joc Pederson, Corey Seager and Julio Urias.
Bowden's colleague at ESPN.com, Buster Olney, writes (subscription required) that the Dodgers' unwillingness is derived from a need to intermix youth with their aging stars.
But adding Price to a rotation that already includes Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Josh Beckett would be almost unfair to opposing lineups.
The Dodgers' starters already lead the majors with a 3.14 ERA and 3.32 SIERA.
Kershaw and Price rank first and fourth in MLB with SIERAs of 1.84 and 2.65, respectively. They're easily the majors' top two lefties by the advanced stat, which measures the underlying skill level of a pitcher.
But the Rays' summer resurgence has complicated the prospects of a deal involving Price—to any destination.
Tampa Bay sat 13 games behind first-place Toronto at 31-48 on June 24. The club's relevance to the league came solely from Price, the hottest name on the trade market.
The Rays are 16-5 since then. First-place Baltimore is within reach, 7.5 games ahead.
With the overall strength of the AL East down from years past, the Rays could hold off on trading Price in hope of sustaining their hot streak and making the playoffs.
It's very possible. Tampa Bay visits St. Louis for a two-game set before returning home to face Boston and Milwaukee. Then the deadline hits.
Will the Rays gain any more ground in the next 10 days?
That's the latest—and most pressing—question surrounding David Price.