Andrew Friedman has established a pattern for trading accomplished pitching for prospects. You send your top pitcher to a pitching-needy team for two major league ready prospects and two projects. He set the example when he sent Matt Garza to the Cubs for top prospects Chris Archer and Hak-Ju Lee and projects Brandon Guyer and Robinson Chirinos (along with throw-in extraordinaire Sam Fuld). He followed that up with the trade of James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City for highly-regarded youngsters Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi along with talented players with more to prove in Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard. Archer, Myers, and even Odorizzi have already made an impact for the Rays with players like Guyer, Montgomery, and Leonard still have a chance as well. Now, Friedman is now faced with unenviable task of trading David Price. Will he stick to the established method or finally deviate from it in his third go-around dealing a topflight pitcher?
Rumors have been rampant about the Tampa Bay Rays’ potential trading partner for Price. The Rangers and the Cardinals are among the leaders in the field. Both have deep farm systems, the money to extend Price, and the desire to take their team to another level. There could very well be a perfect match here. However, before we jump to the obvious solution, though, let’s think out of the box for a moment. How about the Los Angeles Angels? At a glance, they don’t look like a good trading partner. They have a lousy farm system and that should turn off the Rays right away. However, they do have a lot of young major league talent and they don’t have a lot of pitching. They are also anxious to take advantage of the huge contracts they gave Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. To make that happen, they have put Mark Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Erick Aybar, Peter Bourjos and their two catchers, Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger, on the trading block. The Rays usually trade for top prospects, but could they alter their strategy to trade for major league players?
The Angels’ desperation seems to play right into the Rays’ hands. The Rays need starters at first base and catcher. The Angels have both there for the taking in a potential Price deal. Trumbo is a power monster who has hit 95 home runs and driven in 284 runs the last three years. He has a career .250/. 299/. 469 slash line, and while you wish he had more plate discipline, his power is awfully impressive. Conger, meanwhile, is a excellent defensive catcher who showed some offensive talent last year with a .249/.310/.403 line. While still not an ideal starter, he would certainly be a step in the right direction. The Rays would control Trumbo through 2016 and Conger until 2017. And as poor as the Angels farm system appears to be, they at least have the prospects to be the secondary pieces in a deal. Randal Grichuk, best known for being the player the Angels drafted directly ahead of Mike Trout, does not have Trout’s talent but does have solid right-handed power and is an excellent defensive outfielder. Nick Maronde, meanwhile, is a nearly major league ready lefty relievers with two out-pitches in his deceptive fastball that touches 95 MPH and sharp slider. Both had excellent strong 2013 seasons at Double-A and combine potential with the possibility of big league impact in relatively short order. Between all the players we have talked about, here is the deal.
Tampa Bay Rays trade LHP David Price to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for INF/OF Mark Trumbo, C Hank Conger, RF Randal Grichuk, and LHP Nick Maronde.
This trade could be a great deal for both teams. Price’s dominant pitching may put the long suffering Angels over the top while Trumbo and Conger would help fill out the Rays starting lineup for 2014. Trumbo gives them a slugger in the middle of the lineup and Conger is a young, affordable catcher. They would control every player in their lineup through 2015 and don’t underestimate the value of not having to reconstruct the team every year. Plus, two more quality players into their minor league system certainly would not hurt. It will obviously be tough for the Rays to give up Price, but getting a proven major league slugger, another strong young player, and two good prospects would certainly soften the blow. Then from the Angels side, losing Trumbo and Conger from their major league team would hurt, but having players like Kole Calhoun, J.B. Shuck, and Chris Iannetta gives them the ability to trade Trumbo and Conger without their team taking too much of a hit. That seems worth the substantial upgrade that Price would give their rotation. Do you think a package for Price built around Trumbo and Conger makes sense for both sides? Please respond in the comments and hopefully we can have a good discussion.