Despite a 10-3 record in their last 13 games, the Tampa Bay Rays are still 9 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East and trail five other teams in the AL wild card race. While their recent streak makes things a little fuzzy, most expect the Rays to shop various assets at the trade deadline. The biggest of those assets -- not only on their roster, but possibly in all of baseball -- is left-handed pitcher David Price.
How motivated are the Rays to shop price for maximum value? Over the weekend, Jon Paul Morosi tweeted that they were even willing to trade him within the division.
If the Rays trade David Price, which remains likely, they are open to trading him within the AL East.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 6, 2014
Given the talent-rich farm systems in Toronto and Boston, this makes sense. However, just because a franchise has a loaded system doesn't mean a deal can be reached. Do the Tigers have the pieces to land Price?
WHY THIS MAKES SENSE
Like Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez yesterday, David Price is really good. He dominated the Tigers on Sunday night, allowing three runs in 8 2/3 innings. Surprisingly, that was his worst outing in some time; Price had a 2.12 ERA in his previous six starts. He has a 7.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2014, second only to Minnesota's Phil Hughes (prior to Hughes' start last night). Price is a four-time All-Star and is arguably the best left-handed pitcher in the American League. He is also under contract for the 2015 season, giving the Tigers a ready-made replacement for Max Scherzer until some of the cheaper options on the farm develop.
WHY THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
Unfortunately, there probably won't be any cheaper options on the farm if this trade happens. The Rays are reportedly looking for a package similar to the one that they received for James Shields a year and a half ago. Point blank, the Tigers don't have the pieces to make that happen.
If the Tigers were abel to piece together a package good enough to land Price, it would decimate an already barren farm system. Recent first round pick Derek Hill would likely be gone, as would at least one of Drew Smyly or Nick Castellanos, along with someone like Robbie Ray or Jake Thompson. Plus, the Tigers would likely be in the same situation next year when Price is approaching free agency.
This isn't as far-fetched as the Tulowitzki/Gonzalez rumor we floated yesterday, but it's still a huge longshot. Tampa has plenty of suitors for Price, many of whom are more motivated and have better pieces to offer than what the Tigers would reasonably be willing to part with. Getting Price would create a Prince Fielder-level of excitement among the fanbase, but would cripple the team's long-term focus.
It would sure be fun, though.