For a moment, ignore the idea of whether the Tigers should trade David Price. There are ideas that they would trade Price and re-sign Max Scherzer, but we're not worried about that right now. Assume that the Tigers are going to trade Price to the St. Louis Cardinals, who are reportedly interested in the star left-hander.
Our question -- and one of the ones I skipped over in this week's mailbag -- is this: who should the Tigers ask for in return for Price?
Viva El Birdos explored the same topic yesterday and concluded with the idea that the Cardinals would probably have to part with right-hander Carlos Martinez in order to land Price. The 23 year old Martinez burst onto the scene as the team's setup man during their run to the 2013 World Series. He struggled at times in 2014, but that could have been due to an uncertain role. He started the season in the bullpen, but made seven starts in June and July. The club won five of those seven games, but Martinez allowed a 4.45 ERA and had a 34:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 32 1/3 innings. His numbers as a reliever weren't spectacular either, but he finished the season with a 3.18 FIP in 89 1/3 innings.
Despite the struggles, Martinez is a talented pitcher that would be a great return on a Price trade. He has been a consensus top-50 prospect over the past few years and has 108 strikeouts in 117 2/3 major league innings to date. He has the kind of power fastball-slider combo that the Tigers covet and still has five years of club control remaining.
The other player that VEB threw out in their hypothetical scenario was Peter Bourjos. Blessed with blazing speed, the soon-to-be 28 year old Bourjos has two years of club control remaining. He hit .231/.294/.348 in 294 plate appearances with the Cardinals last season and has a career .692 OPS in 1430 plate appearances. That isn't too enticing, but his defense is. By any metric, Bourjos rates among the best center fielders in baseball. If metrics aren't your bag, the Los Angeles Angels pushed Mike Trout to left field when Bourjos was in the lineup. He's fast, he's good, and he would cover a lot of ground in Comerica Park.
Problem is, he's a little redundant. With Anthony Gose and Rajai Davis planning to split time in center field, Bourjos doesn't really fill a hole. He has an extra year of club control remaining (compared to Davis), but his subpar on-base percentage subtracts from any defensive advantage he provides over the veteran.
There are other options, though. Jon Jay is a career .295/.359/.396 hitter and has a similar amount of club control remaining. However, the Cardinals probably would not part with both him and Martinez for Price, and Martinez is the more enticing option here.
The Tigers could also look to the minors, where the Cardinals are stacked. Outfielder Stephen Piscotty is a top-100 prospect who hit .288/.355/.406 in 556 plate appearances at Triple-A Memphis last year. This isn't entirely impressive in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but Memphis is one of the more neutral home venues in the league. Piscotty also has yet to make his MLB debut, making him a tempting long-term option for the Tigers after Yoenis Cespedes leaves via free agency.
Outfielder Randal Grichuk doesn't have the prospect ratings that Piscotty does, but he displayed more power in Triple-A last season, hitting 25 home runs in 472 plate appearances. Grichuk also played in 56 games for the Cardinals last year -- including 36 postseason plate appearances -- which tells us that they valued him over Piscotty in the short-term.
If I got to select two names out of the ones listed above, I'd pick Martinez and either Piscotty or Grichuk. I like the extra years of club control that one of those outfielders provides over Jay or Bourjos, and they are bat-first players who have the potential to take over a corner outfielder spot for years to come.
Martinez seems to be the lynchpin of this trade, though. I don't know if the Tigers would be willing to part with Price for a package centered around one of those outfielders and pitching prospect Marco Gonzales, but we have been underwhelmed on trade returns in the past.
What do you think? Should the Tigers deal Price to the Cardinals?