There is a thought that the Tampa Bay Rays will be putting David Price on the trading block this Winter. Price, himself thinks that he will be dealt sometime in the near future. He will be eligible for arbitration the next two seasons before becoming a free agent after the 2015 season. The question for this site is, will the Arizona Diamondbacks be in the mix involving a deal for the ace pitcher? Here is a quote by D-Backs’ GM Kevin Towers regarding the possibility of a trade involving a big name player as reported by azcentral’s Nick Piecoro:
“Depends on who we’re talking about,” Towers said. “If it’s a big bat, a middle-of-the-order type hitter, a top-of-the-rotation type starter, then we might dip into that depth a little bit.
“But, I mean, if not, if it’s not the right guy or somebody that we feel will be a difference maker in the rotation or the middle of the order, I think we’re more than likely to go with some of our young kids.”
The D-Backs probably have the assets to make the trade for Price. He certainly is a difference maker in the rotation. To me, it is not a question of will they do it, the question is, should they do it? For that, there are two important points to consider.
Are the D-Backs a number one starting pitcher away from being a playoff team? For the second straight season, the D-Backs finished 81-81, nine games off the second wild-card. There are opposing view points of the team right now. It appears management seems to think that with some minor tweaking, Arizona can be a playoff team in 2014. They thought the club was a playoff-caliber squad before 2013 started. Having a former Cy Young Award winner in his prime raises the bar for the entire organization. The other thought, shared by many fans, is that the back end of the rotation is weak, the bullpen even with the potential arrival of Matt Stites and Jake Barrett is still flawed and the lineup needs another big bat. One David Price does not close the gap completely.
Can the club convince Price to sign a long term deal in Arizona? Price has already stated that he is not coming back to Tampa at a discount. Any deal that has the lefty coming to the desert will undoubtedly include Archie Bradley, himself a future ace plus other another Major-League ready player (think one of the many shortstops in the organization). Price would be under club control for two years after which he will become fair game. It is an awfully big risk to mortgage the future for a guy who may be only around for a short time.
In order to make this deal work, one of the two criteria listed above needs to be met. Unless Price falls in love with the swimming pool, he is headed to free agency so the club has to think Price will put them over the top. One thing working in their favor is that second year under the team’s control. By 2015, the team could be a legitimate World Series contender with Price set for a big payday, Paul Goldschmidt, Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin all at or near their primes and a dominating bullpen headed by Barrett and Stites.
My take: I think the D-Backs are more than just David Price away from being playoff contenders. And there is no chance Price does not test the market. I would rather the team put Bradley in the rotation now and grab a lower end free agent like Bronson Arroyo or Ervin Santana to fill out the rotation. Let Matt Davidson and Chris Owings develop on the left side of the infield. 2014 may only be a slight uptick over 2013 ; even that could be enough to prevent a third straight .500 season. 2015 will be the year the D-Backs will be considered real playoff contenders. After that, if they still want Price, bid on him in free agency.