Top of the rotation starters are a scarce commodity. A true ace is even rarer, and teams typically are not adverse to opening their vaults to pay such talent. Zack Greinke received a 6 year contract from the Los Angeles Dodgers for a guaranteed $147million, which could be worth as much as $158million. Felix Hernandez recently signed a 5 year, $135.5million with the Seattle Mariners. Meanwhile, David Price signed a one year extension with the Tampa Bay Rays worth a mere $10.1125million to avoid arbitration.
Although Price has said numerous times that he wants to remain in Tampa, the economics of such an extension may not be feasible for the Rays. Therefore, the reality may be that, as difficult as it may be to picture Price in another team’s uniform, such a concept may end up happening sooner rather than later. As the Rays managed to defer $4million of his salary until next season, that time may be coming.
If recent trades involving pitchers considered to be ace caliber are any indication, the Rays may be able to receive a significant haul for Price. In fact, the Rays are likely quite aware of this, having received two top prospects in Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi for James Shields. Just over a week later, the Mets received two of the top prospects in the Blue Jays system in Travis d’Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey. For the rental of Greinke, the Angels gave up Jean Segura, along with two other pitching prospects for two months. To acquire Greinke originally, the Brewers gave up Odorizzi, Jeremy Jeffress, Lorenzo Cain, and Alcides Escobar.
Of the teams mentioned as a potential landing spot for Price, the Texas Rangers are frequently mentioned, typically with Mike Olt or Jurickson Profar mentioned as returning to the Rays. However, given the past trades for top of the rotation starters, it seems unlikely that one or the other would be sufficient currency. In fact, it may well take both prospects, or another top prospect, as well as a couple of other players. So, what could a potential trade with the Rangers look like? Perhaps something similar to this:
It would seem unlikely that the Rangers would want to give up both of their top prospects, but may be willing to part with one of them. Buckel is probably the Rangers top pitching prospect, a strike thrower with a K/BB rate of almost 4:1 in the minors. Gallo has tremendous power potential, but has a long swing that could lead to strikeout issues and may not be able to stay at third base defensively. Martinez is a former shortstop that was converted to the mound, and has struck out roughly a batter per inning over his two years in the minors.
While that may not be enough to entice the Rays to trade David Price, they may be able to receive a substantial haul should Price become available. Considering the contracts given to top of the rotation starters recently, such a trade may end up becoming a reality.