We are now all too familiar with the David Price trade rumors. For the past year, people have predicted the Rays to trade David Price due to his increasing salary, but now it is looking increasingly likely that Price will be traded. At the beginning of the offseason, teams such as the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers among others had been rumored to be interested in Price. How has this market shifted so far?
Suddenly, odds are that the Dodgers will not be in on David Price after all. Among all the teams described as suitors for Price, the Dodgers were the most likely to extend him given their ability to spend seemingly endless amounts of money. They had some prospects and had even shown a willingness to trade one of their starting outfielders to facilitate a deal. After a spending frenzy, the Dodgers finished short of their goal of a world series championship, and thus people believed they would try to make another splash this offseason with something like a Price trade. However, with their recent signing of Dan Haren to a 1-year $10 million deal, the Dodgers appear to be moving in another direction. With six strong pitchers in Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu, Zack Greinke, Haren, Josh Beckett, and Chad Billingsley, the Dodgers are more likely to spend money elsewhere if they do want to make another splash this offseason. Why would they have signed Haren if they expected to deal for Price? You can never count out the Dodgers’ free-spending ownership group, but it is unlikely Price will be wearing Dodger blue in 2014.
The Texas Rangers are also a team that has been highly linked to Price the past two offseasons. But recently, the Rangers acquired Prince Fielder from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Ian Kinsler, and that could change everything.. The Rangers’ main trade chip to draw Price away from the Rays seemed to be Jurickson Profar. Coming into the offseason, the Rangers had a jam at the middle infield spots, with Profar, Kinsler, and Elvis Andrus vying for just two starting spots. Now that Kinsler is out of the picture, Profar slots in as the Rangers’ everyday second baseman. We all thought it would be a blockbuster trade that fixed the problem, but nobody guessed it would be a Fielder trade and not one for Price. Now it is unlikely Jon Daniels will part with his prized young player, and any trade talks would have to change dramatically. The Rangers still have some decent pieces, such as catching prospect Jorge Alfaro and first baseman Mitch Moreland, but none are nearly as attractive to the Rays as Profar. Similar to the Dodgers, the Rangers have been known to make splashes in the offseason. Now, they have made their splash, and making a second one does not seem to be in the cards.
The stalling of discussions between Major League Baseball and the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan might also have an effect on a Price trade. Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Masahiro Tanaka has been mentioned as one of the top potential pitching targets for major league baseball teams this offseason (he was even ranked the top free agent pitcher by MLB Trade Rumors). But seeing as Tanaka has one year remaining under contract, he will have to go through the posting system in order to be able to come over to the U.S. The problem with this is that there currently is no posting agreement between MLB and NPB. The prior agreement between MLB and NPB expired this offseason, and so far talks have not been particularly productive in reaching an agreement on a new system. Thus, Tanaka will be unable to come to the U.S. unless an agreement on a new system is reached. Many teams have considered Tanaka in order to add a topflight arm to their rotation. However, if Tanaka is unavailable to come over to the U.S., or even if an agreement is not reached until late into the offseason, this could have an effect on Price. Teams could instead look to trade for Price in order to make their mark on the offseason.
Price’s market could expand, and teams could be willing to give up more to acquire him if Tanaka cannot be acquired by a major league team this offseason. Tanaka has been mentioned as the only potential topflight starter on the free agent market this offseason (although opinions certainly vary, and international players are never a sure thing). But without Tanaka on the market, Price could be one of a limited number of ways for a team to acquire a true ace this offseason. Keep an eye on the posting system discussions this offseason, as it could have a significant impact on Price’s market.
The market for Price has changed so far this offseason, and the odds are increasing that his final suitor will not be one of the teams people have been predicting for years on end. With the Rangers and Dodgers likely out of the Price sweepstakes, the Rays will turn elsewhere in order to find a trade partner, and it will be interesting to see who emerges from the crowd. The stalling in posting system discussions between the MLB and NPB will also have a significant impact on a Price trade as we see whether teams have a greater sense of urgency as talks drag out. The Rays will move Price this offseason if they can get a worthwhile return. Someone will emerge with the right offer, but who that team remains in question as the offseason gets into full swing.