Rangers' Acquisition of Cole Hamels Pressures Dodgers to Land David Price

Scott Miller@@ScottMillerBblNational MLB ColumnistJuly 30, 2015

AP Images

Not that it took Philadelphia forever to deal Cole Hamels, but if you check the timeline, I’m pretty sure the Phillies’ agonizingly protracted trade talks date back well before the arrival of the Liberty Bell in Philly.

That said, good for them. They got the humongous haul general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. vowed he would get.

And good for the Texas Rangers, who, with Hamels in place, are now close to regaining their heavyweight contender status in the AL West.

And good for…whoa, wait just a Hollywood minute.

With Hamels off the board pending the final paperwork and physicals—the deal is expected to be announced Thursday, according to Bleacher Report sources—there is only one avenue now for the Los Angeles Dodgers to travel, and that is straight to Motown.

Matt York/Associated Press

As Wednesday night melted into Thursday morning and the tick, tick, tick of Friday’s 4 p.m. ET trade deadline turned into a roar, the Dodgers were poised to add starters Mat Latos and Alex Wood and reliever Jim Johnson, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick, as part of a three-team deal with the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins. 

Being that none of those names is David Price, and none of those teams is called the Detroit Tigers, the Dodgers have some significant work to do with less than 48 hours until the deadline.

This is a team with a record payroll of $272 million. Not only have the Dodgers not won a World Series since 1988, they haven’t even played in a World Series since 1988.

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You don’t lay out that kind of dough unless you’re all in for the World Series, and being that it’s obvious the Dodgers are swinging for the fences and believe their window is now, at this point, they have to corral Price.

At the end of a wild day on the trade deadline front on which GM Dave Dombrowski said his Tigers will “reboot,” one executive’s educated prediction to Bleacher Report late Wednesday night was that it will be a race between the Dodgers and the Toronto Blue Jays to land Price.

Jul 28, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher David Price (14) walks back to the dugout at the end of the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Other clubs pushing hard for Price, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, are the San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees. And as Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports notes, the Houston Astros are aggressively hunting Price as well. The latter could turn out to be wildly entertaining, if Price and his dog Astro become Astrosyou bet I talked to Price about that when I saw him last week, and his thoughts on trade packages for his pooch are in item No. 3 here.

No question, the Blue Jays need a starter (or, preferably, two) badly. If they don’t land one, Tuesday’s acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki makes absolutely zero sense.

The Yankees and Giants, sure.

But being that the Giants have won three World Series in the past five years, and being that the Yankees have won five World Series since the Dodgers last played in one, no supposed jewel franchise is more desperate than the Dodgers. (Well, maybe the Chicago Cubs, but with the young talent they’ve stockpiled, their time is coming, and soon.).

Jul 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; National League pitcher Zack Greinke (21) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after the second inning of the 2015 MLB All Star Game at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke are having fabulous seasons, but with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy out for the season with injuries, the Dodgers rotation drops off after Kershaw and Greinke like a skydiver from an airplane. It’s steep, and without bold moves, it’s going to be a long way down too.

Some industry sources on Wednesday believed that the Dodgers-Braves-Marlins deal and Latos, Wood, Michael Morse, Jim Johnson and highly touted prospect Jose Peraza is only a means to an end for Los Angeles. In other words, they speculated some players from this package would wind up being flipped from Los Angeles to Detroit in a Price deal.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Who knows? With the Tigers likely to trade Yoenis Cespedes by Friday, maybe Detroit can squeeze Yasiel Puig out of Los Angeles in a package for Price. The Dodgers already are loathe to part with top prospects Corey Seager, the 21-year-old shortstop whom some in the Los Angeles organization believe will be better than Joc Pederson, and Julio Urias, the 18-year-old flamethrowing left-hander.

Their refusal to part with Seager and Urias, ultimately, is why they could not come to terms with the Phillies on Hamels. Philadelphia’s match with Texas netted the Phillies, according to Bleacher Report sources, top prospects Jake Thompson, a right-handed pitcher whom MLBPipeline.com ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Texas’ system, outfielder Nick Williams (No. 5), catcher Jorge Alfaro (No. 6), right-hander Jerad Eickhoff (No. 17) and right-hander Alec Asher (No. 29).

Along with Hamels and what is described to Bleacher Report as “lots of money” from the Phillies to help defray the ace lefty's $73.5 million guaranteed through 2018, the Rangers also are obtaining lefty reliever Jake Diekman and sending lefty Matt Harrison to Philadelphia.

Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

The move sets up the Rangers to contend again as soon as 2016 by pairing Hamels with Yu Darvish, who's currently recovering from Tommy John surgery, to front a deep rotation that also could include Martin Perez, Derek Holland, Chi Chi Gonzalez and/or Nick Martinez.

The prospects will help the flat-lining Phillies regain a pulse.

Now the pressure falls squarely on a Dodgers team suddenly working feverishly to hold off the Giants—again—from boxing them out of October glory.

Not only would a rotation of Kershaw-Greinke-Price be a dream October trio, but acquiring Price now would give the Dodgers a two-month head start on everybody else to begin seducing him before he becomes a free agent this winter.

And with Greinke expected to invoke his opt-out clause to become a free agent this winter, having a direct avenue to Price could be enormously beneficial to the Dodgers if they wind up losing Greinke.

If it sounds like a bat rack full of moving parts, it’s because it is. Wednesday was an increasingly and incredibly frantic day and night, crystallized by Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores literally using his jersey to wipe tears away while crying in the middle of New York’s game against the Padres because it appeared he had been traded to Milwaukee along with injured pitcher Zack Wheeler in a package for outfielder Carlos Gomez.

Then, suddenly, there was no deal, as Mets GM Sandy Alderson angrily announced postgame.

Who knows what other bizarre and sensational twists and turns these final few hours before the deadline will bring?

But one thing I do know is that if the Dodgers fail to land Price, Flores won’t be the only one shedding tears this season.

Scott Miller covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

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