During the offseason, it was fair to speculate about the future of David Price. Fresh off a Cy Young Award winning season, and about to go to his second year of arbitration, Price seemed on the verge of….well…..pricing himself out of the Rays budget. Once the Rays and Price came to an agreement, and James Shields was traded, it would have seemed that the speculation would die down for a while. Instead, it fueled speculation that Price would be traded after the season, as the contract had $4million in deferred money.
And for a while, as it got closer to the start of the season, rumors of a Price trade died down. It felt as though it was realized that he would remain in Tampa at least through 2013, and trade rumors could rest until November. Then the Rays got off to a slow start, and the rumors started up once again. Speculation has begun once again as to what Price could command on the trade market, despite the fact that the Rays were considered a strong playoff contender to begin the season.
Even though Price has struggled, the Rays have fought back out of the hole they had dug themselves into at the start of the season, hovering around the .500 mark. In a division that is anticipated to be closely contested, it is very unlikely that a team breaks away from the pack this season. Also, with the added Wild Card, the Rays would likely need to be suffering through a truly disappointing year for Price to be an option at the trading deadline.
However, looking at the trade of James Shields for parallels, it seems rather unlikely that they would move Price at the deadline, even if they were struggling. First, moving Price in the middle of the season could cause issues with the remaining starters, as they have to suddenly get acclimated to a different role than what they had during the season. Second, it could potentially limit the possible teams that may be willing to trade for him. If Shields had been moved at the deadline last year, would the Royals have been interested and pulled the trigger, as they were not a threat for the playoffs at the time?
As Robbie had asked previously, will there ever going to be a good time to trade Price? Perhaps not. Trading one of the best pitchers in the American League, if not all of baseball, is never an easy proposition. This would be especially true for a team as reliant upon it’s pitching staff as the Rays are. However, it is far too early in the season to be thinking of trading perhaps the best pitcher on the team.
So, enough of the David Price trade rumors already. If the Rays are continuing to struggle closer to the trade deadline, then this topic can certainly be revisited. However, April is far too early in the season to be thinking about such moves.